Lack of support annoys residents

By Joseph Aldridge


Pyes Pa residents concerned about the proposed installation of a 20-metre radio aerial are disappointed the Tauranga City Council won't fight a legal battle on their behalf.

Residents of Veda Glen yesterday petitioned the city council to appeal an Environment Court decision which allows amateur radio enthusiasts to erect radio masts up to 20m high.

They said a radio aerial proposed by a neighbour would be an eyesore, create wind noise and devalue their properties.

Councillors sympathised with the residents' plight but said, based on their legal advice, an appeal to the High Court would be pointless.

The council had previously tried to restrict private radio masts to a maximum height of 9m.

However an appeal to the Environment Court by the Tauranga Emergency Communications Group and the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters saw the maximum height raised to 20m.

Council senior policy planner Campbell Larking told councillors approximately $100,000 had been spent fighting the case in the Environment Court, and he estimated an appeal to the High Court would cost another $50,000.

A High Court ruling would not be binding and the matter would simply be sent back to the same Environment Court judge to re-consider.

''The process going forward, in my opinion, is futile because you can go through this type of process and still get the same conclusion,'' Mr Larking said.

A resolution proposed by Councillor Murray Guy, which sought to launch an investigation into Environment Court and City Plan processes in order to enhance community consultation did not find enough support to be passed.

''It all sounds very good but it's a load of nonsense,'' Cr David Stewart said.

''This whole process is governed by the Resource Management Act legislation, there's nothing we can do that would go against the grain.''

Council's hands were tied, councillors told Veda Glen residents, adding that the residents may have more success launching their own legal challenge.

Outside the chambers, the residents said a legal challenge was outside their reach and they were disappointed the council had backed away from fighting the case on their behalf.

They stressed they would not be the only neighbourhood affected by the Environment Court decision.

They believe the erection of large radio masts was planned for residential areas in Welcome Bay and Bethlehem.

The proposed tower at Veda Glen was not just a mast but featured a 13m x 15m section of horizontal aerials at the top of the mast, they said.

Janet O'Shea said she had a ''conservative'' opinion from a registered valuer stating properties adjacent to the radio mast would lose up to 10 per cent in value.

''I know for a fact that our property that's next to this, basically if this goes up it will make our property unsellable.''

Council should have at least tried to get the Environment Court decision amended, Mrs O'Shea said.

''. . . just to say it's too hard and we don't want to try, I'm extremely disappointed and I feel let down by our council and councillors.''

- Bay of Plenty Times

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