The Australian Government appreciates that people sometimes have concerns about the rollout of telecommunications infrastructure. 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 carriers to notify landowners and land occupiers if they are planning telecommunications activities on their land.
For example, if a 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 any 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 provides information about objecting to proposed activities on their website.
Approvals for the installation of free standing towers, such as the proposed tower are subject to local planning laws and are the responsibility of state, territory and local governments. The Commonwealth is not involved in state, territory and local governments planning processes.
How to object to a proposed installation
If the proposed installation is a mobile phone base station, the Industry Code for Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment C564:2020 applies. The Industry Code is designed to make sure that stakeholders are advised before a low-impact facility is installed, and that council and community views are taken into account.
The local community, including councils, can voice any concerns about the proposed activity by sending a submission to the carrier. The Industry Code requires carrier 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 views.
How to know whether a proposed installation is safe
Understandably, some in the community want to know if electromagnetic energy (EME) from telecommunications, particularly 5G, is regulated for safety, and whether there are any health concerns.
The government strictly regulates EME emissions to protect the health and safety of the public while allowing the community to benefit from modern telecommunications.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) sets the public and occupational exposure limits in a radiation protection standard (the Standard).
The amount of EME from telecommunications facilities must be below the limit set in the ARPANSA Standard.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) enforces compliance with this Standard.
Before a mobile phone base station is built, a report is produced that shows the maximum levels of EME around the new facility. It should be noted that predicted EME levels are for a base station operating at its highest capacity and assumes that all transmitters are working at full rated power. In reality, base stations typically operate below full rated powers levels.
This report and other information about mobile phone base stations may be accessed from the Radio Frequency National Site Archive website, www.rfnsa.com.au.
The department has developed a range of resources designed to inform and reassure communities that telecommunications technologies are researched, regulated and safe.
How to get telecommunications infrastructure relocated
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 carrier or its subcontractor.
If you are considering any redevelopment work or other similar activity and it will require the relocation or removal of telecommunications equipment, it is best to engage with the relevant carrier early in the process about moving the infrastructure.
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, we strongly encourage developers, new home builders and others involved in planning and development 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 for the proposed relocation of the telecommunications infrastructure, you can seek advice from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) on its website.
- Use this resource to find out what you need to know about telecommunications deployment