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MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEPLOYMENT NEWS, ISSUES AND SCIENCE

VCAT dismisses phone tower radiation arguments in ‘Red Dot Decision’


VCAT

In a ‘Red Dot Decision’- a significant case - the Victorian Civil and ­Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) have advised residents to not raise concerns about radiation from mobile phone towers because it does not have the power to address them. The state planning tribunal says it is not a forum to address all issues of social or community concern and can only work within the existing planning rules and safety regulations.

 
“Public health concerns about electromagnetic radiation are often raised in planning cases about a telecommunications facility. However, it is not the role of VCAT to second-guess the expert authorities that regulate the area,” VCAT deputy president Mark Dwyer said.
 
The case was marked as a ‘Red Dot Decision’ which is done to highlight cases of interest and significance and will set a precedent for similar cases.
 
Mr Dwyer's ruling was in response to objectors who wanted a review of the City of Greater Geelong's initial decision to give Telstra a permit for a mobile phone tower.
 
Mr Dwyer said the Australian Communications and Media Authority have set a clear regulatory standard – the ARPANSA standard - under Commonwealth law, which VCAT was bound to comply with.
 
“VCAT cannot look behind the ARPANSA standard where it will be met, nor does it have the expertise to do so,” Mr Dwyer said.
 
“The amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted by a telecommunications facility may well be a legitimate issue of public concern. However, VCAT is not a forum for addressing all issues of social or community concern, nor is it an investigative body.”
 
“It cannot give great weight to unsupported assertions about public health concerns in the context of an individual planning application, particularly in relation to matters outside its own expertise or beyond the limited ambit of its statutory role or discretion in relation to that application.”
 
VCAT is not the appropriate forum where generalised opposition to telecommunications facilities based on public health concerns can or should be raised, Mr Dwyer said.
 
“Allowing objectors to continue to air their concerns about electromagnetic radiation at a VCAT hearing creates false expectations about the role of VCAT and the ambit of its discretion, and the extent to which it can realistically deal with such issues,” Mr Dwyer said.
 
“It follows that objectors should not raise the issue of electromagnetic radiation in VCAT proceedings about telecommunications facilities where the ARPANSA standard will be met.”
 
“If they attempt to do so in their statements of grounds in the future, they can anticipate that the issue will be summarily dismissed without debate.”

 

Published 29/05/2014

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