Cell towers back on Green Party’s hitlist
The Green Party jumped back on the anti-cellphone tower bandwagon again this week, reducing the complex issue to crowd-friendly soundbites.
Arguments over the deployment of cellphone masts around the country have raged for years, with companies and government organizations all struggling to find a solution that would keep everybody happy.
This did not prevent Green Party MP Sue Kedgley from scoring political points over the towers in parliament this week.
She complained it was “incredibly unfair” that telecommunications companies could put up transmitters and antennae on power poles next to people’s homes without having to inform them or consult with them.
Health minister Tony Ryall conceded that the public did not have a right to be consulted on cellphone towers being put up in their communities while assuring Ms Kedgeley of the safety of the tower.
This did not stop Ms Kedgeley from calling for a review of the national environmental standard so that telcos would be required to consult with local residents before constructing cellphone masts next to people’s homes and schools.
The campaign against cell sites is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser - it’s not hard to connect with voters concerned about their health and the fact that their skylines could be tainted with the sight of towers, as long as the work already going into public consultation and issues such as co-location are ignored.
2degrees has been the most active tower builder over the past 18 months as it established its network in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, and is now in raising the money to take that network nationwide.
2degrees spokeswoman Bryony Hilless said the telco considered it good practise to carry out consultation with those affected by the erection of towers and some cases did require a formal consultation process under the Resource Management Act.
Consultation can hold up some projects for months and an absolute requirement to consult anybody in the region who could be affected in any way would only delay more towers, when escalating demand and increasing competition see the need for more sites grow.
Standing up in Parliament and scoring political points is easy enough, especially when nobody want a tower in their back garden, but it won’t solve the ongoing problem.