Resumption of construction of controversial 4G mobile phone tower in Havelock North

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The construction of a 4G mobile phone tower that sparked controversy among residents of Havelock North has resumed, despite continued refusal by residents.

Spark had started building the tower in 2019, but stopped after protests as residents said they had not been consulted. The telecommunications company confirmed that construction of the tower resumed on Monday and would take around 10 working days.

On Monday afternoon, a lone security vehicle sat outside the site, which was still surrounded by a steel fence covered with protest placards. Hours later, the panels were removed and the contractors were on site, ready to continue with the installation.

The tower, at the corner of Te Mata Road and Durham Drive, was strongly opposed by a group of residents after discovering the proposed construction of the tower in September 2019, to the point where a physical altercation occurred between a resident and a provider.

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The standoff is believed to be the longest that a community has actively blocked a new cell phone tower in New Zealand, and residents are still not giving up.

The tower is built directly outside of Stephen Fookes’ house. He said officials last week met with Hastings District Council to discuss “a number of compliance issues.”

Spark spokesman Sam Smith said the company was “not invited to the scheduled meeting” because residents “felt it was unnecessary.”

“We are absolutely willing to answer any other questions they may have, as we have done throughout this process,” she said.

Contractors at the site of the 4G cell phone tower in Havelock North.

Georgia-May Gilbertson / Stuff

Contractors at the site of the 4G cell phone tower in Havelock North.

Fookes said the residential group with at least 120 supporters was not opposed to the technology, but “they have to be compliant and (the tower) not” right next to a residence. “

He said residents also agreed that “the planned existing site is’ an absolute mess and degrades the value of the area”.

Another spokesperson for the group, Barry Jones, said there were “better sites” in the area and believed the tower placement was due to competition with other telecommunications companies.

“Their whole attitude is that we can do it, and we’re going to do it. Hard”.

Proposed site for a Spark cell tower in Havelock North.

Marty Sharpe / Stuff

Proposed site for a Spark cell tower in Havelock North.

Smith said the site was “a licensed activity, provided specified standards are met, under National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities.”

“We are confident that our design meets all requirements and have received a Certificate of Conformity from the Hastings District Council to confirm this. “

Jones said residents will continue to fight the tower and are still considering legal action.

Spark’s sales activation manager, Leisa Epplett, previously said, while Spark was disappointed that they couldn’t resolve all of the residents’ concerns: “We think we’ve done everything we can to try and do so. , and we must now do what is right for the connectivity needs of the community at large ”.


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