Cell phone tower sparks concerns

Sheila and Roy Shepherd are concerned about the possible health risks associated with the new Spark tower in Kings Garden.

Residents in Cambridge East are up in arms after a Spark cell phone tower was erected on the corner of Robinson and Madison streets last week.

The tower sits right in the middle of the densely populated Kings Garden suburb, and most residents say they weren’t made aware of plans for the new addition.

Those in the immediate area of the tower were notified of the project in November 2013, and after no formal submissions were received, Council granted consent for the project in December of that year.

A team from Downer were onsite to install the Spark tower on November 23.

“Everybody was up in arms about it at the time,” said Sheila Shepherd, who lives next door to the site, adding that a cell phone tower was erected sometime in 2014 but then taken down a few weeks later. “The council should have re-consulted before it went up again.”

A spokesperson for Spark said they are not aware of the first cell tower being erected, but did issue an apology to the residents living near the new tower who were not made aware of the new project.

“We acknowledge that there may have been some changes where people have moved on, given the amount of time that lapsed between when the consent was granted and the start of the build,” said Spark New Zealand’s Communications Advisor, Chloe Ferrand. “We’d like to apologise to the residents around the mobile site, who were not aware of the proposed mobile site construction.

“We have five years to build a tower from the date we get consent for a site and are not required to seek feedback once the local council grants a resource consent.”

A Council spokesperson confirmed, “Council has been made aware of the concerns held by some residents and will be talking to Spark and ‘strongly advocating’ that Spark considers a different location for the tower.

“Under the new National Environmental Standards, cellphone towers are ‘permitted activities’ in residential areas.”

Sheila Shepherd, a retired nurse, said she believed the tower posed a serious health risk to those in the immediate area. “I’m seriously concerned about the health effects that it could have on local residents, especially to young brains, with so many children in the area.”

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