Saturday, December 22, 2012

Correspondence with planning minister Brad Hazzard about ham radio antennas

I wrote the following letter to the NSW planning minister, Brad Hazzard on 18 November 2012:

The Hon. Brad Hazzard, MP
P O Box 405
Dee Why NSW 2099

Dear Mr Hazzard,

I am a member of your electorate and a licensed ham radio operator, VK2TPM.

I’ve recently heard that your new planning system for NSW does not include the streamlining of approvals for the antennas that we ham radio operators need to put up to pursue our hobby.

The antennas that most of us put up are no more unsightly than TV antennas and much less unsightly than many of the tall masts which are common in suburbs on the northern beaches. Further, I find the power poles and lines, along with the low hanging cable TV and internet wires, to be much more unsightly than the occasional ham radio antenna that my colleagues put up.

Ham radio is a wonderful hobby and serves an important public service in times of disaster when conventional communications is unavailable. 

Specifically, what I’d like to see is:
  • Ground mounted radio masts or antennas of up to 10m height (or 5m above a roof if attached to a building) be exempt from a development application.
  • Masts up to 15m should only require a simplifying permit based on given standards.
Victoria and South Australia have regulations like this. Can you explain to me why we can’t match this in NSW?

If I can be of any further assistance, or you’d like to visit my ham radio shack for a cup of tea, you’d be most welcome.


Peter Marks

He replied:

17 Dec 2012

Dear Mr Marks

I refer to your letter concerning the construction of radio antennas without the need for
approval, as exempt development.

I would like to acknowledge the valuable work performed by amateur radio operators in
transmitting vital information during natural disasters and other emergencies when
traditional infrastructure fails.

Provisions of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development
Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) allow antennas and aerials to be erected on most lots in
NSW to a height of 1.8m above the highest point of the roof on a dwelling. This includes
aerials and antennas which may be erected at ground level such as those used by
amateur radio operators. In situations where there is a two storey dwelling, this allows for
the erection of an aerial or antenna that is around 10m high.

These standards are designed to balance the rights of owners to erect these structures
which are suitable to the scale of existing buildings, while minimising visual and other
impacts on adjoining neighbours.

I note your reference to the approval and location of traditional infrastructure and the
impacts they have on amenity. The erection and development of power poles and lines as
well as cable TV and Internet wires is governed by other legislation, including the
Telecommunications Act 1979, administered by the Commonwealth Government.

Amendments to the Codes SEPP have recently been exhibited for public comment.
Amateur radio operators raised concerns regarding the Codes SEPP and the ability to
erect radio masts and antennas. Each submission is currently being reviewed and I have
asked the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to pay particular attention to the
concerns yo rail- in finalising the SEPP amendment.

Should you have any further enquiries about this matter, I have arranged for Mr Michael
File, Acting Executive Director, Assessment Systems of the Department of Planning and
Infrastructure, to asist. Mr File can be contacted on telephone number 02 9228 6407.

Yours sincerely


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