Modern living

It’s one of the common stories of modern development.
Everyone wants better services and improved infrastructure … unless it’s next door to them. The latest dispute in Cherryville is no exception.
It’s undeniable that the stark metal frame and imposing height of mobile phone towers can be intrusive on natural landscapes.
But, like highways, airplanes and train lines, they have become part of modern life.
In a society that relies so heavily on communication for business, education and even safety, the lack of efficient, reliable connection puts some members of the community at greater risk than those living just minutes away.
Better mobile and internet reception is not just about access to luxury services like music streaming and Netflix.
Living just 20km from Adelaide’s CBD, it’s not unreasonable that Cherryville residents would expect to conduct business from home or call an ambulance in an emergency without having to find a slither of reception for a patchy phone call.
The community’s concern over the aesthetics of their region – which hosts the Heysen Trail – is not without merit.
But the 1200km Heysen Trail already winds its way past three of these towers at Mt Lofty.
Views from the Mt Lofty Summit and the nearby Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens have long been punctuated by the television towers and a 34m tall fire tower.
Yet they remain two of the region’s most popular and picturesque spots.
While opposition to the imposing development is understandable, as time passed the tower would have likely become less obtrusive to residents – just like people living in a flight path or near a main road eventually don’t notice the extra noise.
Anti-tower residents say the tower isn’t guaranteed to significantly improve communication in the valley, with other spots just as viable.
But Telstra says it’s exhausted its options and has backed out all together.
It’s a great shame that some residents may have permanently missed out on an opportunity for better infrastructure and quality of life.
And it’s also a shame that such outcomes may not reflect well when the region seeks future Mobile Black Spot funding.
But what’s even sadder is the way the dispute has divided a community.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.