A battle between a group of residents and iBurst has ensued after the broadband provider erected a tower at the Fourways Memorial Park in Craigavon, Johannesburg. Currently the residents association of the affected Craigavon community is considering entering into a legal dispute with iBurst.
Faiza Dawood, the lawyer representing the Craigavon community, claims that the environmental impact assessment was faulty and that correct procedures regarding public participation were not followed.
By law the affected residents must receive notice of the provisional Record of Decision (ROD) within 10 days of issuance, and be given 30 days in which to lodge an appeal. Dawood alleges that none of these regulations were adhered to.
A Craigavon community representative has voiced concerns on the MyBroadband forums ( http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?t=186226 ), alleging that iBurst began construction of the tower before the allotted 30 day appeal period had expired.
Central to this dispute is one Craigavon resident, Ms Tracy-Lee Dorny, whose property borders the site on which the new iBurst tower has been erected. Ms Dorny would however not comment on the issue directly, and referred MyBroadband to her lawyer (Dawood).
On Saturday the 5th of September a small awareness campaign took place against the erection of the tower. Approximately 20 individuals took to the streets bearing placards, and erecting signs at various intersections around Craigavon, and near Fourways Mall and Cedar Square. It has been confirmed by participating protestors that a number of protesters were paid R300 for their time and effort.
Flyers with the message “iBurst subjects a residential community filled with children to uninvited microwaves from their tower” were also distributed in the region.
iBurst has hit back, saying that it fully adhered to all necessary procedures and legal requirements to erect the new tower in the Fourways Memorial Park in Craigavon. “Every step, as legally required, were followed and the process was actually completed in 2008.” iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl stated. “All the required documents are on record and can be viewed, just as they were made available to myBroadband”.
iBurst furnished MyBroadband with various legal documents and complaints recording the responses which are required as part of a Greenfield property acquisition and permitting process. Van Zyl pointed out that the process to get the Craigavon site approved started in late 2007, which included informing all necessary residents about their plans. After all objections were handled, the final ROD was issued in October 2008. This ROD gave the final authorisation to construct the tower.
According to iBurst this process included sending two letters, one hand delivered and the other by registered mail, to all parties that were either on adjacent properties or who registered as objectors or interessted parties, including to Ms Dorny who now claims she never received any such notification. Van Zyl provided documentation to confirm that the letter was delivered, and also that Dorny did not make use of this opportunity to oppose iBurst’s plans.
In a letter to Ms Dorny iBurst said that her failure to adhere to the official public participation process does not amount to any wrong doing on the providers’ part. iBurst further said that her allegation that the mast impacts on the commercial value of her property is incorrect and that the property valuer’s report states that the mast has no impact on property values.
Van Zyl explained that the ensuing confusion may have arisen because of the fact that the company initially applied for two potential tower sites in the Fourways Memorial Park. This however had no influence on the approval process and the ROD, and did not require another public participation process once the decision was taken to construct on the current site.
iBurst further said that their wireless equipment complies with all the regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and ICNRP, and that wireless providers monitor the impact of their base stations carefully.
Van Zyl concluded “The new tower is already running at near full capacity, clearly showing there was and is a need for the service by the Craigavon residents”.
iBurst tower battle – give your views