Fair Go: Residents 'livid' after cellphone towers put up near their properties, spoiling pristine views

What rights do residents have if a neighbour wants to allow a new cellphone tower to be installed on their property?

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What are your rights when it comes to the towers being installed within your property’s view? Source: Fair Go

This was the issue faced by Ross and Bronwyn Minehan, who, after buying a property in Canterbury, found a work crew erecting one of the towers just a few metres from their boundary.

As shown TVNZ 1's Fair Go programme last night, the new Spark tower was necessary, the company said, because it would patch up a "black spot" in coverage.

Improvements to rural broadband coverage will see about 450 of the new towers put in across the country.

The couple tried, and failed, to have the construction halted by going to their local council, and Spark says it has been built legally and correctly.

Their neighbour had leased the land for the tower to Spark, but Spark doesn’t need other neighbours’ consent to build the tower.

The Minehans say they spoke with other neighbours who told them they too were approached by Spark, asking to lease a small section of land for between $7000-$8000 annually to put the tower on.

They say it was "absolutely shattering" to find out that they had no right to protect the view they loved.

"I just want to know if anyone actually stood at this site and looked around and thought 'hmm ... we're going to impact here on other people'" Bronwyn said.

"It's just unfair - very unfair."

Ross agrees: "we'd have never bought a property if there were pylons around or things like this."

A bit further north near Waipu, Julie Kean shares a similar story - she was asked by the Rural Connectivity Group whether she would allow a tower on her newly-bought property.

She said no, and even went a step further by writing to her local council to object to the placement of such a tower anywhere near her.
"My partner and I were absolutely livid," she says.

The tower was approved for a site just down the road from Julie, and it was legally deemed that residents in the area wouldn't be affected.

"I'd say we're affected," Julie says.

"Most of us around here are affected by it visually or whether its too close to their property.

"It's going to devalue our land - no one wants to live next to a tower in the urban areas, let alone the rural areas - which is why we came out here in the first place."

RCG now says that no decision has been finalised on the placement of that tower as yet, and they are actively looking at other sites as well.

Locations of the 450 new towers are available on the Crown Infrastructure website here.

Fair Go screens on TVNZ 1 at 7.30pm on Mondays, and you can watch it on TVNZ OnDemand here.