A telco giant is installing nine ground-based satellite domes in Northland that it says will help provide wireless broadband services to rural users and benefit the region economically.
The Whangārei District Council has given Auckland-based Vocus (New Zealand) Limited, part of Sydney-based Vocus Group, a certificate of compliance to install, operate, and maintain a ground-based satellite station.
The station, with nine antennas contained within a round dome, is being built on a piece of land leased off Otaika Valley Free Range Eggs along State Highway 1, Puwera, just south of Whangārei.
Vocus is a leading specialist fibre and network solutions provider and its reach extends internationally across both the Southern Cross and Hawaiki cable systems with an on-net presence throughout Australia.
Vocus, which includes retail ISPs Orcon and Slingshot in its stable, delivers networking solutions to homes, businesses, government and wholesale customers in New Zealand.
Neither the company nor the owner of Otaika Valley Free Range Eggs were prepared to comment about the satellite station and how it would specifically benefit Northland telecom and broadband users.
In the certificate of compliance, WDC said it deemed a resource consent was not required under the Resource Management Act because the activity relating to the satellite station would be done legally under the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities.
Under the Act, the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities took precedent over the Operative Whangārei District Plan.
The satellite station antennas, perched up a hill, will be 2.7m high and 1.47m in diameter, supported by steel plinths, and contained within a round dome cover of 2.1m diameter.
"The application site is not located in an outstanding or notable landscape area or outstanding natural feature, and does not feature any heritage trees, sites of significance to Maori or historic heritage areas," WDC said in the certificate of compliance, dated February 17.
A report to the council prepared for Vocus by Ventia said the satellites would provide wireless broadband services to rural users in the area, further unlocking the economic potential of the greater Whangārei.
They would also provide a wireless connection to a number of low-earth orbiting satellites.
Planning and environment consultants 4Sight Consulting submitted a report to WDC in which it said the anticipated noise levels at the perimeter fence of the compound where the satellites would be positioned were well below the levels permitted by the council and under the national environment standards for noise measurement.
The report said if the proposed antennas were to become operational today, the predicted cumulative radiofrequency field levels at places in the vicinity of the facility that were reasonably accessible to the general public would not reach or exceed 25 per cent of the maximum level authorised by New Zealand standards.
The new satellite station comes just months after Southland's development and tourism agency Great South canned plans for a mixture of large and small antennas between 3m and 6m-high on Sandford Rd in Ruakākā.
Angry residents believed the site was unsuitable for satellite dishes, given their close proximity to SH1 and Ruakākā School.
The agency is looking at a new site in Northland.
Data collected from satellites could be used for GPS navigation, predicting weather, environmentally sustainable land use decisions, maritime and fisheries protection, and civil defence emergency response.