State and Territory Regulations

The Mobile Carriers Forum is working with state governments through its regional planning program to highlight the benefits of consistent planning controls. The program aims to promote consistent planning provisions to guide the siting and design of mobile network infrastructure to improve outcomes for councils and the community.

The MCF recently welcomed the New South Wales Government’s decision to take the lead on reforming its planning laws, which provide for fast-track delivery of telecommunications facilities, including new mobile network towers and antennas. The NSW government has acted to ensure these essential facilities can be rolled out efficiently and effectively while ensuring community safety and protection of the local environment.

This was a significant achievement for the MCF, which worked closely with that State and had highlighted over many years the need for consistent planning rules across NSW’s 152 councils. The new rules provide for greater investment certainty for the carriers and it is hoped they serve as a blueprint for other States.

The planning framework for Telecommunications infrastructure in Victoria, which has been in place since 1999, has provided the necessary consistency for both industry and local government to effectively plan for deployment of network infrastructure. However, the MCF has recently initiated a review of A Code of Practice for Telecommunications Facilities in Victoria with the Department of Planning and Community Development.

In Western Australia the MCF has highlighted the need for changes to State Planning controls to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and the Western Australian Planning Commission. The use by Councils of outdated ‘buffer zones’ or specific development setback requirements for mobile telecommunications facilities, has the potential to diminish the quality of service provided to the community. The MCF is encouraging the State Government to provide improved guidance to Councils when they are assessing proposed telecommunications facilities.

Since 2005, the Queensland MCF has been actively participating in the development of a State Assessment Code for Telecommunications Infrastructure. Following the exhibition of the Queensland Planning Provisions (QPP) in late 2009, the telecommunication facilities code was temporarily removed to review its workability. At this time, the MCF made a submission to the QPP raising issues with the code. In June 2010, the MCF wrote to the QLD Department of Planning and Infrastructure seeking refinements before the reintroduction of the Telecommunications Code into the QPP.

In September 2009, the Tasmanian Government released a draft planning directive (Draft Directive No. 2), which included a list of the types of mobile network facilities that would not require a planning permit from Tasmania's local councils. At the time the MCF welcomed that uniform approach, however, in the draft directive, there were no provisions to provide any further exemptions from those already found in the existing planning schemes, effectively making Tasmania's rules more restrictive than anywhere else in Australia.

In November 2009 the MCF wrote to the Tasmanian Government, outlining potential lost opportunities to fast track approval of certain types of mobile network telecommunications facilities that have negligible impact, and which are in other states exempt from the approval process. Further to this submission, in February 2010, the MCF presented to the Tasmanian Planning Commission for an easing of planning restrictions in the State for the approval of mobile network antennas and towers. The Commission released its findings in September 2010 which included the need for the State Government to adopt the MCF’s recommendations.

 

 

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