The cellphone tower stoush playing out in Pirongia could soon move towards Te Awamutu.

At least two cellphone towers could be constructed in Te Awamutu, depending on whether a lease by Vodafone is renewed.

The tech giant wants to renew its lease to operate cellphone telecommunications equipment from the Te Awamutu water reservoir on Greenhill Drive.

The site is owned by Waipā District Council.


If the lease is renewed, Vodafone will continue to operate the current equipment without changes.

However, if the lease ends, at least two cellphone towers would be built nearby to service the community.

Vodafone has operated equipment from the Greenhill Drive site since 1994, complying with all requirements. 2degrees also operates equipment from the site.

In early 2014, Waipā District Council granted the company a further five-year lease but, in response to community feedback, requested nearby residents be advised next time the lease came up for renewal.

The council this week advised nearby residents of Vodafone's request for a lease renewal and also of changes to regulations around cellphone towers.

In a letter to residents, district growth and regulatory services group manager Wayne Allan said since the lease was last renewed, the law has changed.

He said in 2016, the Government amended the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications (commonly known as NES) and increased the range of telecommunications facilities that do not require a resource consent.

That means cellphone towers can now be located on council road reserves as of right if they comply with the NES standards.


They can also be built on private land, if the landowner agrees and the District Plan is complied with.

Wayne said staff favoured the Vodafone lease being renewed because it would stop two cellphone towers being built nearby.

Council would have no say about where those towers might be located, including on public roads as part of power poles, he said.

"Our hands are tied," Wayne said.

"If Vodafone is forced to build two cellphone towers because the lease is not renewed, they could pop up anywhere next to houses on nearby road reserve and there's very little council could do about it.

"As staff, we think it's better for Vodafone's equipment to stay where it's been since 1994 so there's no need for new cellphone towers at all. But it's not up to staff. The decision on whether or not to renew the Vodafone lease will be made by councillors."

Nearby residents have been invited to share their views on the lease renewal with council prior to any decision being made.

Council will also be seeking confirmation from an independent expert to ensure emission standards are being complied with before the lease decision is made.

Elected members will make the decision at a council committee meeting next month.