Cellphone towers in Waipā
In Waipā, and across New Zealand, telecommunications activity is dictated by the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications (commonly known as NES).
The NES provides a national framework of rules for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. It allows network operators to install a wide range of low impact telecommunications infrastructure, such as cell phone towers, without the need to apply for resource consent, provided they meet certain conditions.
Under NES standards, as long as companies meet the standards and comply with District Plan restrictions, they are able to decide where cellphone towers are erected – including on public road reserves owned by Council, and urban and rural areas. This means Council is unable to intervene in or prevent companies from erecting cellphone towers where they choose to do so. Towers can also be build on private land if the landowner agrees.
Telecommunications providers are encouraged, but not obligated, to consult with the community so residents can raise their concerns and have their say.
If you’re concerned about a proposed or existing cellphone tower in Waipā, please contact the telecommunications company involved.
The other aspect is who controls RF emissions? Local Government has no ability to control or regulate RF emissions including 5G. This sits with Central Government, through the Ministry of Health, and the NZ standard 2772 for RF emissions, and is implemented through the National Environment Standard for Telecommunication Facilities. Our council only implements the National Environmental Standard and has no powers to regulate RF.
For more information on NES standards head to https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/national-direction/national-environmental-standards/national-environmental-standards-0.
In 2016, the Government introduced the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications (commonly known as NES), made under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The NES provides a national planning framework that allows network operators to install a wide range of low impact telecommunications infrastructure, such as cellphone towers, in road reserves without the need to apply for resource consent, provided they meet certain conditions.
More information on NES standards can be found here: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/national-direction/national-environmental-standards/national-environmental-standards-0.
They must meet specified conditions around size, location and noise. Radiofrequency emissions are also included. These conditions will be assessed by Council’s independent consultant to ensure they comply with regulations.
The NES includes controls around radiofrequency (RF) emissions from cell sites. The New Zealand exposure standard, NZS 2772.1172, is designed to limit public exposures to
levels at least 50 times below those at which harm might occur. You can find out more about the standards at https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/environmental-health/non-ionising-radiation/radiofrequency-field-exposure-standard.
It is the telecommunications company’s responsibility to consult with residents. This is considered best practice even if the facility is permitted and does not require resource consent.
Only with regard to infrastructure. Council must ensure the integrity of the road reserve is not impacted. Then as long as the cell phone tower meets national standards and district plan restrictions around height and other issues, there is little Council can do. Even if a consent is required, Council can only process the application for the location that has been applied for and has no ability to direct the telecommunications company to an alternative location. Council’s hands are legally tied.
Under legislation, telecommunication facilities are not prohibited, so Council is legally bound to accept any application for processing. Consent applications of this nature are also site-specific, and Council can only process an application for the location it is proposed.
By law, Council cannot stop a telecommunications company from placing a cell phone tower in an urban area. The location of cell phone tower sites is at the sole discretion of the telecommunications provider. Telecommunications companies have their own technical requirements for location to optimise coverage, and some facilities need to be located in urban areas to achieve this.
If a permitted activity, Council cannot stop cell phone towers being erected on public road reserves if they comply with NES standards and the District Plan. Where a resource consent is required, Council can only consider the effects relating to the rule breaches, and has no ability to decline an application because it is located in a public road. Cell phone towers can also be built on private land if the landowner agrees.
In the last few years, there have been a number erected across the district. As long as they comply with NES standards and the District Plan, Council has had no control over where they go.
Telecommunication providers are encouraged to consult with the community so residents can raise their concerns and have their say. Following consultation, the telecommunications provider can then weigh up if they should be looking for alternative locations. The telecommunications provider makes the final decision over location.
The obligation to consult is on the telecommunications provider. Please contact the company for more information on their consultation processes.
Will a cellphone tower in my neighbourhood impact the value of my property? What can Council do about it?
We’re not in a position to assess or make comment on current or potential property values. That’s outside the scope of services Council provides, and the matters that we are able to consider under a resource consent.
Unfortunately we don’t have that information. You would be best to contact the telecommunications company for more specific information.