Mr P finds out a communication pole will be installed on his neighbour's land near his new home (March 2016)

Meters, poles, wires and pipes
Case Number 2015/34647
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

After noticing an electricity distribution worker surveying land around his home, Mr P approached him and found out that the distributor was planning on installing a communication pole on his neighbour's land, close to his property boundary line, and not far from his new home, (under construction at the time). Unhappy about this, Mr P told the distributor he did not want the communication pole built near his property, however it did not agree to move the pole, so Mr P called EWOV. We organised an Assisted Referral which required the distributor to contact Mr P within three business days to discuss the issue with him. During the discussion between the distributor and Mr P, it told him that the pole would not be visible from his home, being almost entirely obscured by trees, and that it would not transmit radio waves to his home. However, Mr P recontacted EWOV following the conversation as the distributor again declined his request to relocate the communication pole.

EWOV contacted the distributor and it requested that the case be escalated to an Investigation due to its complexity.

The Investigation

We asked the distributor to provide a summary of its own investigation into the matter, as well as its suggestions for a resolution.

It told us that during its early assessment into the suitability of the site, using GPS and Google Maps, it was not aware that Mr P planned to build a new home. It said that with the consent of Mr P's neighbour — who owns the land — the communications pole was originally going to be placed at the top of a ridge, about 500 metres from Mr P's original property. During their first visit to the sight they noticed a new building was under construction, so it undertook a visual impact assessment at various locations and heights. Following the assessment it decided to move the communications pole to a new location — still on the neighbour's land — below the peak of the ridge, and ringed by tall trees, making it almost entirely invisible from Mr P's new home.

The distributor told EWOV its two main criteria for selecting the location were to be close to a commercial power supply, and to have a clear line of sight in the direction of three targeted towns. The communications pole would not radiate in all directions, but rather it would be focused in the three directions noted at a very low frequency. It said the frequency of the communications pole was licensed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to comply with safe limits. These standards comply with the Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields - 3 kHz to 300 GHz (2002), issued by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency . It said it was unable to relocate the site further away from Mr P's new home and still maintain suitable communication lines in all three required directions. We confirmed with ACMA that the required licences had been granted for the communication pole.

The distributor maintained there was no legal requirement for them to negotiate with the owner of neighbouring land it intended to build on, but it elected, as a courtesy, to relocate the communications pole from the original site when it noticed Mr P's new home being built. We checked the Electricity Industry Act 2000 and confirmed that Sections 93(b), (d) and (e) give electricity corporations broad powers to install and maintain such poles, without consideration of neighbouring properties.

The Outcome

EWOV's Investigation confirmed that the distributor was entitled to construct the communications pole on Mr P's neighbour's land. The required ACMA licences were granted and the Electricity Industry Act 2000 did not require Mr P's consent for the pole to be erected on the proposed site. Mr P was satisfied with our Investigation and the information provided and the case was closed.

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