Tee’d off over towers

The current cellphone tower at the entrance of the Durbanville Golf Club

The City of Cape Town has received two cellphone mast applications for two different locations on erf 9362, the property of the Durbanville Golf Club and if approved, this will bring the number of towers at the golf club, to three.

The first application is near the corner of Legato and Fairtrees drive, and the other is near the pond on the corner of Legato and De Villiers drives, Durbanville.

The same company, Highwave Consultants Limited, who have applied for a cellphone mast to be erected at the Apostoliese Geloofsending Church on St John’s Road, Vergesig (“Residents say no to tower”, Northern News, November 10), will be responsible for this project, if approved.

The proposed two towers will run in addition to an existing tower at the golf club. “A number of years ago a site application was approved by the municipality and a cellular tower has been in operation at the entrance to Durbanville Golf Club for as many as nine years now,” said general manager, John Bold.

A proposal for the erection of a similar cellphone tower to be erected in more or less the same spot was lodged in 2002 but was denied approval.

Johan van der Merwe, the City’s mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning, however, said that Section 73 of the Municipal Planning By-law only restricts applications that were submitted less than six months prior to the current application.

“The City is under obligation to accept and process any completed application,” he said.

In the previous article, Northern News noted concerns from residents relating to health and the value of their property.

Mr Van der Merwe said the City carefully considers all submitted applications within a contextually specific manner and each application is treated upon merit and runs through a stringent system of due process.

This includes reference to compliance with the relevant policies and the approval criteria applicable to the relevant legislation.

“Furthermore, generally, there is no scientific proof of the impact that a cellular mast has on the health of residents living around or in close proximity to masts. However, the Department of Health has adopted internationally accepted electromagnetic field (EMF) public exposure limit guidelines for the country, which guide the levels of emissions from cell masts. The applicant’s installation can be measured or reports may be requested by the Environmental Health Department from the applicant, which need to indicate the emissions from such installations,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

But a resident who asked not to be named, said that while he understands that in today’s technologically advanced era there will be a need for the expansion of communications networks, he could not understand why the companies who erect these towers always have to choose controversial areas to erect them, when there are perfectly good alternative areas away from residential homes available.

The resident who is also a regular golfer at the club, said he could easily identify six different sites on the course where this tower could be placed, where it would be far from homes and would not interfere with any of the normal day-to-day activities of the golf course.

Mr Bold said the area currently does not have the sufficient capacity to cope with the growing demand in wireless voice and data- related products.

“As a consequence, Durbanville Golf Club was approached by a tower company with a view to submitting a further application to the municipality seeking permission to site two towers on its land,” he said.

The public participation process for the proposed cellphone tower closed on Monday November 14 and Mr Van der Merwe said the applications were advertised for public comment, in accordance with applicable legislation.

“The objections received during the respective periods have been submitted and referred to the applicant for their response. Once this is received, a submission will be made to the Municipal Planning Tribunal for a decision.”

With regards to possible concerns, Mr Bold said the application addressed matters of health, property concerns and alternative sites.

“Once approval is received the go-ahead will be given for the towers to be constructed,” he said.