CHARLESTOWN residents are fighting the installation of a 31-metre Optus mobile phone tower they say is “completely inappropriate” for a suburban street and potentially dangerous for human health.
Residents of Algona Road received plans for the “simply awful” tower about two weeks ago and have since been fighting the telecommunications giant in a bid to scuttle the proposal before it reaches council.
The tower is proposed for a vacant piece of Crown land nestled between dozens of homes.
It is the second mobile phone facility Optus is proposing to build in Lake Macquarie, with Gateshead residents also vowing to stop a tower slated for Bulls Garden Road.
“They are simply awful,” said resident Andrew Tiller, who is leading the charge against the Charlestown tower.
“We think it is just a completely inappropriate place for it. It’s next to homes, it’s far too high and the health effects are unknown. Who would want to live next to that?”
Mr Tiller said people on the street were worried about children living so close to the tower and the impacts it might have on their health.
There are two schools and two preschools nearby.
According to an environmental report written by Huawei, the proposed tower will emit just three quarters of the human exposure limit of electromagnetic energy and radio frequency.
But Mr Tiller said the report was flawed as it assumed the tower would be built at ground-level, which is not the case as the vacant block is elevated.
He said it was too early to tell the health impacts of telecommunication towers because public use of mobile phones had exploded in the past two decades.
“We don’t know enough about radiation, and what it means to have mobile phone towers at such close proximity to people’s homes,” Mr Tiller said. “Think about asbestos and cigarettes – everybody thought they were safe in the early days.”
When asked about the safety of mobile phone towers near homes, Optus declined to respond.
An Optus spokeswoman said the company would listen to the resident’s feedback.
“We are committed to consulting with the community when we’re examining new sites for our mobile infrastructure,” she said. “We will continue to work with key stakeholders, including local council, on exploring ways we can improve coverage for customers across the area.”
The tower is designed to improve Optus’ services.