Moyne Shire's Colin Ryan seeks answers after Telstra drops plans for Tower Hill communications tower

MOYNE Shire councillor Colin Ryan wants answers from Telstra after the company announced it had scrapped a planned telecommunications tower at Tower Hill.

Cr Ryan will put a motion before his colleagues at Tuesday night’s council meeting “seeking an explanation for (Telstra’s) decision not to build a new tower at Tower Hill”.

NO TOWER: A small group of protesters and Western District MP James Purcell prevented an upgrade to telecommunications in Koroit. Picture: Amy Paton

NO TOWER: A small group of protesters and Western District MP James Purcell prevented an upgrade to telecommunications in Koroit. Picture: Amy Paton

Moyne Shire approved the 55-metre tower in March, but a group of concerned residents opposed the project and took the issue to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), leading to Telstra announcing it would not proceed with the project.

Cr Ryan criticised Telstra for backing down, but also took aim at the small group of residents who had scuttled the planned tower with assistance from Western District MP James Purcell.

“(Mr Purcell) said this was a win for the little guys – well, I’d hate to see what a loss looks like,” Cr Ryan said.

“What does (Mr Purcell) propose as an alternative?

“We were told there was no other location (for the tower) that could give that same coverage, but it’s not only about phone coverage, it’s about communications for our emergency services.

“Telstra have said yes, service in the area will suffer, but they’ve not offered any alternative.

“I want to find out why they cancelled the planned construction of the tower. They went to the trouble of developing the project, it was a long process and they spent a lot of money on it.”

Cr Ryan’s motion also aims to express the council’s “dissatisfaction” with Telstra on behalf of the community.

Telstra intended to build the new tower about 190 metres north of the existing 60-metre Broadcast Australia telecommunications tower.

According to notes accompanying Cr Ryan’s motion, Telstra said the new tower was required to maintain and improve mobile phone coverage because of interference from digital TV and radio networks, and that not building the tower meant “mobile and emergency radios coverage in the area will be compromised as a result”.

Member of the concerned residents group Peter Swainger told The Standard last month the protesters were “pretty happy” Telstra had abandoned their plans.

“Whatever Telstra does next I hope it is more consultative with the community,” Mr Swainger said.