HUGE smart-meter towers being built in parts of Melbourne are distressing residents and councils powerless to stop them.
Electricity company SP AusNet, which insists radio frequencies emitted from the structures are safe, has constructed eight “monopoles” 30-40m high. More sites are being assessed.
Knox City Council’s Angelo Kourambas said riled residents living nearby were mainly concerned about the “visual blight” of the towers.
“They stick out like the proverbial,” Mr Kourambas said.
Planning permits are not needed as they are an essential service under the Telecommunications and Electricity Industry Acts.
The towers transmit digital meter data in a similar way to mobile telephone technology.
SP AusNet, which services 640,000 customers in eastern Victoria, is erecting the structures to support a wireless system known as WiMax.
Other distributors said they did not need to build separate towers, as they were using different technology.
Monopoles constructed over the past three years are at a Rowville shopping centre carpark, a VicRoads reserve in Greensborough, and within power sub-stations in Croydon, Boronia, Bayswater North, Ringwood North, Ferntree Gully and Pakenham North.
Antennas or radio equipment have instead been attached to existing poles such as high-voltage and telco towers at another 11 locations.
The company said smart-meter communications equipment was only installed in residential zones when industrial areas were unsuitable.
Maximum radiofrequency exposure was less than 1 per cent of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s allowable limit.
“‘SP AusNet conducts a comprehensive site selection and design process to identify the most appropriate location for each WiMax base station to provide the most effective communications coverage in the area and to minimise the impact on local communities,” the company said in a statement.
>> How many are there?
>> How big are they?
30-40m (a mobile phone tower is typically 30m)
Why a tower?
>> Reasons include the geographical spread of SP AusNet’s customer base, and the forecast growth of its region. SP AusNet says it is more efficient and reliable than other systems.
>> What radiation do they emit?
Radio frequency levels are within Australian guidelines, governed by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. The standard enforced in Australia is the Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radio frequency Fields – 3kHz to 300GHz
WHERE THEY ARE
* Dorset Rd, Croydon substation
* Wadhurst Dr, Boronia substation
* Glen Park Rd, Bayswater North substation
* Warrandyte Rd, Ringwood North substation
* Beales Rd, Greensborough VicRoads Reserve
* Glenfern Rd, Ferntree Gully substation
* Kelletts Rd, Rowville Rowville Lakes Shopping Centre
* Racecourse Rd, Pakenham North substation