HUTCHISON TELECOMS MOBILE PHONE TOWERS ON THE MULLALOO SQUASH CENTRE
∙ Hutchison Telecoms have leased space on the Mullaloo Squash Centre site and in June 2002 installed 6 mobile phone antennae. There was no community consultation at all. Due to community outrage and widespread community action the site has not yet been able to be commissioned.
∙ The site is not protected by the Telecommunications Act. Because the antennae are deemed “low impact” (that is less than 5 metres in height from the top of the roofline) telecommunications carriers have the legal right to place them where they wish. There is no right of appeal by communities in this process. Regardless of the definition it is a fully-fledged mobile phone base station with all the impact of a large tower.
∙ The site is less than 10 metres from where a proposed Telstra site in 1991 and an Optus site in 1996was defeated by Mullaloo residents
∙ The site is less than 40 metres from and overlooks the Mullaloo Kindergarten and Child Health Centre, 50 metres from the local church’s children’s play area, 60 metres from the Mullaloo Heights Primary School playing field, 175 metres to the Mullaloo Heights Primary School buildings, and 200 metres to the pre-primary school. It faces over a park used by the schools and the community and is surrounded in the remainder by residential housing in very close proximity (ie 60-70 metres). The areas of highest radiation intensity are directly over the school grounds.
∙ The major issue is the potential long-term health effects on our children. The community has very strong concerns about the long-term health impacts of electromagnetic radiation exposure from such a facility being sited so close to our children over an extended period of time (the lease is for 20 years). The research on the athermal effects of RF radiation indicates there are impacts on the body at temperatures less than that which can cause heating. Scientists now all agree that that biological effects do occur at this level but do not yet understand the mechanisms by which this is happening and do not know whether they will lead to adverse health effects in the long term.
∙ It should be noted that many of our children live within 300 metres of the towers (with the most powerful emissions being at around the 200-300 metre mark) and go to our local schools. For them the exposure will be for every minute of the day, 24 hours per day, seven days per week over many years.
∙ A public meeting was called in June 2002 and attended by over 350 residents. The Mullaloo Community Action Group was formed. There was a range of community actions, including picketing of the site on a regular basis, undertaken over a nine month period that had very wide media coverage locally, State-wide and nationally.
∙ In December 2003, as a result of strong and continuing direct community action Hutchison’s State management agreed they would try to find an alternative site and had discussions with City of Joondalup officers. They stated that if there were no suitable alternative sites they would come back to the Mullaloo Squash Centre.
∙ A petition protesting against the use of this site was presented to the Federal and State Parliaments and had over 1700 signatures on each with well over 1200 from the community of Mullaloo. A subsequent Federal petition of a further 300 signatures was also presented to Parliament. Almost 100% of households within a one-kilometre radius of the site signed those petitions.
∙ In early 2003 the City of Joondalup lifted its moratorium on “high impact” telephone towers as a solution to a similar problem occurring in Duncraig. When the moratorium was lifted Hutchison applied for a development application for nearby Kallaroo Park on the basis that it would better suit their technical needs and would allow them to move from the Mullaloo Squash Centre site. After a number of months of process that development application was rejected by the Joondalup City Council after objections were received from nearby residents.
∙ Hutchison then were in the throes of making a decision to commission the Squash Centre site. The Mullaloo Community Action Group then staged another round of protests and rallies that gained local, State and national media exposure. As a consequence of those actions and after discussions with Don Carlos, Mayor of Joondalup and Tony O’Gorman, MLA for Joondalup and as a result of pressure from all West Australian Senators, Hutchison have again been looking for alternative sites.
∙ In summary the fight for this site has been ongoing for over 12 months and has yet to be resolved to our satisfaction.
From our point of view:
∙ This is a community sensitive site.
∙ We are concerned about the potential long-term health impacts on our children.
∙ We strongly believe that the precautionary approach should be taken and the base station removed.
∙ We will no let Hutchison back onto this site no matter what the consequences.