Information for Land Owners and Communities

Information for Land Owners

It is understandable that people sometimes have concerns about the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure, and these concerns need to be balanced against the community’s need for modern communications services.

Telecommunications carriers are expected to engage with communities in a meaningful and sensitive way about proposed deployments. The carriers’ powers and immunities framework requires telecommunications carriers to notify landowners and land occupiers if they are planning telecommunications activities on their land.

For example, if a telecommunications carrier proposes to install a low-impact facility, they must give a notice to the land owner and land occupier at least 10 business days before they start the activity and ensure that any installation of facilities causes as little damage as possible.

Land owners can use these 10 business days to raise concerns with the carrier, or object if there is a reason to oppose the deployment. A land owner may object to a proposed activity on the following grounds:

  • the use of the land to engage in the activity,
  • the location of the facility on the land,
  • the date when the carrier proposes to start the activity, engage in it, or stop it,
  • the likely effect of the activity on the land, or
  • the carrier’s proposals to minimise detriment and inconvenience, and to do as little damage as practicable, to the land.

The Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) provides information about objecting to proposed land access activities on its website.

Approvals for the installation of free-standing towers are subject to local planning laws and are the responsibility of state, territory and local governments. Participation in the community consultation process is the appropriate channel for raising concerns about a specific tower, including any potential impact on property and broader visual amenity.

The Australian Government is not involved in state, territory and local governments planning processes.

Information for communities

Telecommunications carriers are expected to engage with communities in a meaningful and sensitive way about proposed deployments. 

If the proposed installation is a low-impact facility supporting operation of a mobile telecommunications network, such as a small cell, the Industry Code for Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment C564:2020 provides an opportunity for the community to have its say on the proposed activity.

The local community, including councils, can voice concerns about the proposed activity by sending a submission to the telecommunications carrier or its representatives. The Industry Code requires telecommunications carriers to provide a response to any community member who provides a submission.

If the proposed installation is a free-standing tower or pole, then state, territory and local government planning arrangements apply. This means that participating in the relevant consultation process for the development application is the best way to present your views about the proposed deployment.

Telecommunications carriers are known to have changed site locations or other elements of the proposed installation activity based on community and council feedback.

Information about proposed and current telecommunications facilities is available on the Radio Frequency National Site Archive (RFNSA). The RFNSA is managed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, the peak body for the mobile telecommunications sector.

You can subscribe on the RFNSA to receive information about future installations of telecommunications equipment at a particular site or area.

Safety of telecommunications equipment and low-impact facilities

Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act and the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2021 require that telecommunications carriers install low-impact facilities in accordance with best practice, and in compliance with applicable industry codes and standards recognised by the ACMA or under Part 6 of the Act.

For example, telecommunications carriers must:

  • act in accordance with good engineering practices and interfere as little as possible with the landowner's use of the land,
  • comply with industry standards and codes registered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA),
  • give an engineering certificate to a landowner within 60 days of installing specific classes of facilities,
  • restore the land to a state similar to its condition before the activity began, and
  • keep and maintain records of certain types of facilities.

Despite these existing obligations on telecommunications carriers, some landowners remain concerned that low-impact facilities are, potentially, not always installed safely or in accordance with applicable standards and codes. Landowners are also concerned they may face additional risk and liability for a poorly installed facility, if that facility causes damage to the landowner’s asset or encumbered infrastructure.

The Code of Practice requires that telecommunications carriers give installation certificates to landowners to provide certainty that specific types of low-impact facilities have been installed safely. This requirement does not extend to all low-impact facilities but is limited to a range of above-ground facilities which are of a height, location, design, and/or volume which may cause a landowner or occupier to have concerns as to the safety of the installation.

An installation certificate must be prepared by a suitably qualified person and includes:

  • an as built structural compliance certificate,
  • an electrical compliance certificate, and
  • copies of any drawings or designs referred to in either certificate. 

The necessary qualifications and expertise of the relevant person will depend on the type of certificate being issued.

  • For structural compliance certificates, it is expected these documents will be prepared by a civil engineer, or an engineer with similar qualifications.
  • For electrical certificates of compliance, it is expected these documents will be prepared by a suitably licensed electrician.
  • For any designs or drawings referred to in either type of certificate, it follows that these documents are similarly prepared by a suitably qualified person, dependent on the nature of the design or drawing.

A telecommunications carrier is not required to comply with this obligation if they have entered into an agreement with a landowner that includes an engineering assurance process for the installation of the facility, and the landowner has agreed to waive the obligations of this section. This exception was included to avoid duplicating certification procedures.

Relocating telecommunications infrastructure

Telecommunications equipment remains the property of the carrier and is protected from tampering by law. Criminal offences may apply if the equipment is tampered with. Any work to remove or relocate telecommunications equipment would need to be undertaken by the telecommunications carrier or its subcontractor.

Telecommunications carriers incur significant costs in installing and maintaining infrastructure, recording its location, and otherwise protecting the asset. It is generally impractical for carriers to relocate telecommunications equipment once it has been installed. Costs may be attributed to the landowner or land occupier for relocating telecommunications infrastructure.

To help mitigate the cost of such replacement and relocation work, developers, new home builders and others involved in planning and development are strongly encouraged to engage with the telecommunications industry early to help optimise the location of telecommunications and other facilities for all parties.

If you are concerned about the costs quoted for the proposed relocation of the telecommunications infrastructure, you can seek advice from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on its website.

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