A Melbourne man’s petition to stop construction of a new 5G tower has been thrown out by a tribunal, with the effort labelled “misconceived”.
Louis Caruna began a six-month long fight against the development last year after the Whittlesea City Council in Melbourne’s north put out a public notice regarding the proposal.
The council received two objections, one from Mr Caruna, but ultimately approved the installation of a 30m monopole and equipment cabinet at the Main Street Recreation Reserve in Thomastown.
At a one-day hearing in early March, Mr Caruna begged the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to block the plan, alleging it represented a “disaster” for the local community.
He provided a petition signed by 146 people, claiming the 5G tower would cause neurological and cellular damage to thousands of park users.
“It is a disaster for our neighbourhood and the park to have this antenna at this location,” he wrote.
“The council does a great job but in this instance failed to support the wishes of the people.
“We could have gotten 1000 signatures, but it is very time consuming knocking on doors.”
Mr Caruna, who was seeking the tribunal review the council’s approval, argued if the tower was built, the council would be “complicit in the commission of hundreds of criminal offences”.
He called for the tower to be installed elsewhere, near the freeway or cemetery because “dead people cannot be hurt by radiation”.
Whittlesea City Council approved the permit in November last year, citing the “significant need” for telecommunication services in the area.
“The closest telecommunications facility is located approximately 1.37 kilometres from the proposed location,” a report by council officers noted.
“There is evidently a significant need for the provision of a telecommunications facility to provide the essential service to the Thomastown community.”
Responding to the two objections, council officers estimated the electromagnetic energy levels emitted by the proposed tower were “only” 2.1 per cent of the maximum radiation exposure limit mandated by regulators.
Council documents reveal officers met with Mr Caruna in October last year to discuss his concerns.
Mr Caruna’s request for a review of the permit was rejected by acting senior member Picha Djohan, who found the application was “misconceived”.
She noted an amendment to the Victorian Planning Provisions in 2022 exempted telecommunications facilities from requiring planning approval.
“As a permit was not required … it follows that third party review rights regarding the use of the subject land for a telecommunications facility are not conferred,” she found.
“Accordingly, I am satisfied that the application for review should be summarily dismissed.”
After misinformation about 5G technology began circulating during Australia’s rollout of the mobile network, Australia’s then chief medical officer Brendan Murphy issued a public statement rebuking the claims.
“I’d like to reassure the community that 5G technology is safe,” he said in January 2020.
“There is no evidence telecommunication technologies, such as 5G, cause adverse health impacts.”
Professor Murphy said the radio waves from telecommunications technology were not hazardous to health.
“Limits are set well below the levels where there is evidence of some biological effects such as tissue heating,” he said.