CASTLE Hill RSL Club has signed a lease to allow Telstra to install a tower on its roof.
But a spokeswoman said the community should keep up the pressure because Telstra could back down.
‘‘Even at this late stage, the club welcomes community petitioning of Telstra,’’ she said.
She said the club did not support Telstra’s plan and tried for about 15 months to prevent it.
The proposal provides for three panel antennas (2.5 metres in length each) at an elevation of 18.87 metres above ground and provision for three future panel antennas (same length, same elevation).
Castle Hill High School’s Parents and Citizens Association last week submitted a petition to Telstra with more than 2000 signatures opposing the project.
The school is opposite the RSL club.
‘‘I’m sure Telstra is watching very closely,’’ P&C president Anne-Maree Kinley said.
Two weeks ago teachers and parents from four preschools and five schools, including Castle Hill High, united to oppose the tower on health grounds.
The Department of Education’s preference is for telecommunications equipment to be built at least 500 metres from a school boundary.
But Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association chief executive, Chris Althous, said international health authorities say there is no convincing scientific evidence of health risks for children living or working near a mobile phone base station.
‘‘The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency have also said there are no regulations to site base stations away from schools or residential areas because infrastructure sited further away from where the services are required may need to operate at a higher power and may result in higher exposures in that area,’’ Mr Althous said.
‘‘In most circumstances the best location to build a base station in order to minimise emissions is closest to where the service is required.’’
The Hills community don’t seem to have been assured by this ‘‘scientific evidence’’ so far.
‘‘We are in the catchment area and we were planning to send our three children to Castle Hill High [but] the installation of this mast has caused us to reconsider this decision,’’ Neri Baker said.
‘‘The effects of the electromagnetic radiation include sleep disturbances, learning difficulties, depression and cancer, and children are particularly susceptible to these effects.’’
At a recent parent meeting some attendees suggested chaining themselves to the RSL club’s fence to protest against the tower.
Others said people could cancel their membership.
On the RSL club’s Facebook page a member, Sophie Liu, said she was ‘‘very disappointed’’ and that ‘‘RSL members need a explanation’’.
On the Hills News website, Carolyn said: ‘‘Castle Hill RSL management — I believe it is your duty of care to let your members know immediately.’’
Also online, Jim Peters said he couldn’t wait to get better coverage in the RSL.
The RSL’s spokeswoman said the club’s board was ‘‘compelled’’ to allow the tower because of the requirements of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) concerning necessary infrastructure and the requirements of Telstra to adhere to codes of practice under the Act.
She said the club wrote to its neighbours, local council and politicians on December 4, 2012, about Telstra’s intentions to lease the tower but got no response and so assumed they would have to fight Telstra alone.
They considered this as ‘‘too costly and not likely to be successful’’.
Castle Hill High principal Vicki Brewer met with Mitchell federal MP Alex Hawke last Tuesday to discuss her ongoing concerns.
‘‘I have initiated dialogue with [The Hills] Council and others about alternative sites and will be working to help achieve the best possible result for the community,’’ Mr Hawke said.
Castle Hill Scouts have now also joined the fight and the director of planning and delivery at the NSW Department of Education, Tony McCabe, has written to Telstra asking them to move the tower further away from Castle Hill High.
A Telstra spokeswoman said Telstra ‘‘needed to install additional infrastructure in this area so customers can continue to use a reliable mobile network’’.
Mr Althous urged residents to read the federal government’s radiation protection facts sheets before making up their minds: arpansa.gov.au/eme/
‘‘The general lack of understanding in the community about how mobile phone technology operates and the complexity of the science involved is why people should rely on the advice of independent health authorities, such as the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, who set the national safety standard,’’ Mr Althous said.
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
■ Should telecommunications facilities be built near schools and preschools?
■ How good is your mobile coverage in and around Castle Hill RSL? Could it be better?