Tower proposal ignites debate

Residents of Wesley Hill at Castlemaine are up in arms over proposed plans for the installation of a new Optus communications tower just a couple of hundred metres from nearby homes.
The residents say it will be a ‘blight’ on the heritage landscape and will be visible as visitors drive into the gateway to Castlemaine.
Optus is currently working with Mount Alexander Shire Council to find a suitable site for its proposed 37.5-metre telecommunications tower and has reportedly earmarked the site alongside Wesley Hill Sports Ground after ruling out several other locations closer to the CBD.
It is understood the tower will also accommodate proposed lighting for the Wesley Hill Oval.
A number of McGrath Street residents received a letter about the proposal on September 14 inviting any objections to be lodged two weeks from that date.
Fiona Dann said not all residents received a letter, including residents in Scotts Avenue who were located just a couple of hundred metres from the site.
“At 12 storeys it will be the tallest structure in Castlemaine and visible right across the area,” she said.
Fellow McGrath Street resident Peter Holland said it would be a ‘blight’ on the landscape.
“This is an authentic historic place with some lovely old homes. Leave it alone, hands off,” he said.
Scotts Avenue resident Sue Anderson said she was also concerned about the potential health effects of the tower and the impact it would have on local property values.
“Australia is about 16 years behind when it comes to health standards regarding such towers. We are concerned about electromagnetic radiation emissions. People living or using facilities within a 400-metre radius will be susceptible,” she said.
Residents and other local objectors attended an objectors meeting with Optus and council representatives at the Civic Centre on Monday last week.
Optus representatives indicated at the meeting that they had explored several other sites in the CBD but these had all been rejected and the Wesley Hill site was not its preferred location as it was too far east.
The residents urge the telecommunications giant and council to go back to the drawing board.
The application will be considered at an ordinary meeting of council where all parties will have the opportunity to present their view. The date for a decision on the application has not been set.

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