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Connexa/Spark have blanket approval for cell towers

From residents of Cooks Beach.

There are a few disgruntled residents of Cooks Beach regrading Sparks location of a new 15m cell tower on the corner of Purangi Road and Resolution Rise.

The Residents are frustrated that it appears that Connexa/Spark had predetermined its location prior to engaging with the affected residents who have numerous concerns which they have expressed, and which Connexa/Spark have basically ignored. The latest suggestion for an alternative location is about 2m from the current temporary location (see images) and would have minimal impact on the aesthetics and property values of Resolution Rise/Scott Drive. The residents see the response from Spark (incl Connexa) as to the reasons why they cannot position the tower in this proposed location, as pathetic:- Their reasons:

  • The area suggested is a flood zone. – If this area floods so will the whole of Cooks Beach there are properties that are lower lying than this position.

  • They are concerned that the ground is approximately 1m lower than their proposed location. – The new tower is 50% taller (15m) than the current temporary one that appears to work fine.

  • There are tree(s) nearby – The current temporary tower works fine with these trees. The new tower would be 5m taller so should also work fine, however if this is not the case, the tree in question is not a native and could be removed.

The above excuses give the residents the impression that something underhand is going on regarding this proposed alternative location, given that there is a proposed subdivision being considered on the block of land where their temporary tower is located.

Spark/ Connexa refuse to have a community meeting. They wish only to meet with individuals. The residents are assuming this is to divide and conquer. The community of Cooks Beach has made it clear that the tower is not wanted in the proposed location and that they will have a physical presence on site when the construction begins.

The community has approached local MP Scott Simpson and some of the local TCDC councillors, all of which appear to be unwilling to assist their local electorate/rate payers. There is a reason for this (see further).

The response from the Engagement Officer of Connexa in May this year is not very convincing…… “It is a rigorous and thorough process where the different disciplines negotiate on many factors that require consideration for a cell site to perform well and after researching the sites again, the proposed location is the best location taking into account all the requirements needed to provide services to the community. There are many disciplines involved in selecting a cell site location and subject matter experts thoroughly investigate the layout of the town where services are required, the topography of the area, existing network infrastructure that can be utilised such as power and fibre connections, the RMA and District Plan requirements, roading aspects, and amenity values. The cell site in the proposed location meets all the permitted activity standards of the Thames Coromandel District Plan, however, requires resource consent as a controlled activity under the National Environment Standard for Telecommunications Facilities (NESTF). Connexa has applied for Resource Consent for the facility in this location. A controlled activity cannot be declined under the RMA and Council can provide conditions for that particular activity to proceed.”

In terms of ever considering other options. It is obvious they don’t need to. They ‘Controlled Activity’ cannot be declined by the Resource Management Act. (the engagement officer’s words). So there you have it - there is no room for the people to have say. There is really no room for. The MP, Scott Simpson or TCDC councillors to have a say. Connexa/Spark hold all the cards. One wonders why the Engagement officer would bother to write and in the same email,… “A team of subject matter experts visited the site location and several other site locations around Cooks Beach when investigating the possible technical options.”

It seems that the decision is already made. This is a process of justification – the procedure of visiting various sites is part of the process of ticking boxes to keep on continuing their controlled activity, knowing the local people don’t have any control. There is hardly a resident who hasn’t had to battle the RMA over building a house, a garage, a deck, holding an event for the community. But somehow, Connexa knows it will never have an issue with the RMA, as their ‘controlled activity’ will never be declined. There is an imbalance in all of this. The citizen who pays the rates and the taxes has been cut out of the decision making process.

“Basically, we are just being bullied into submission by a corporate company and a legislation to achieve their goals regardless of what is right for the rate payer,” says resident, Michael Gillett. “When will the people get the chance to say enough is enough? We are just getting bullied and legislated out of all rights of what happens on public land.”

A group of residents have reached out to the media in hope that they are able to assist in their endeavour to get Spark/Connexa to listen to reason as they clearly do not listen to the residents and customers and make it more widely known that the rate payer has absolutely no say in what happens on public land and this matter needs to be addressed.

The Resource Management Act National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities 2016 (NESTF) is the national planning framework legislating for all mobile network operators to upgrade and install telecommunications equipment in the road reserve and rural areas. Activities permitted under the NESTF include the installation of new antennas, poles and equipment cabinets without the need for a resource consent, although there are specific terms and conditions that apply to meet NESTF conditions.


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