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Vodafone Tower in Bulls

April 23, 2021

Consent has been granted for a new Vodafone Tower to be located at 150 Bridge Street, Bulls, which is within Council’s commercial zone.

Vodafone applied for Consent and met all the requirements for the site and the location of the new tower. Under the provisions of the Rangitīkei District Plan and the National Environmental Standard for Telecommunication Facilities Regulations 2016 consent for the tower was able to be issued as of right, and did not require public consultation.


Information about Cellphone Towers

Vodafone Fact Sheet - Mobile Cellphone sites

In Rangitīkei, and across New Zealand, telecommunications activity is regulated by the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities) Regulation 2016 (commonly known as NESTF).

The NESTF provides a national framework of rules for the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure. It allows network operators to install a wide range of low impact telecommunications infrastructure, such as cell phone towers, without the need to apply for resource consent, provided they meet certain conditions.

Under NESTF standards, as long as companies meet the standards and also comply with the relevant District Plan restrictions, they are able to decide where cellphone towers are erected – including on public road reserves owned by Council, in both urban and rural areas. This means Council is unable to intervene in or prevent companies from erecting cellphone towers where they choose to do so. Towers can also be built on private land if the landowner agrees.

Telecommunications providers are encouraged, but not obligated, to consult with the community so residents can raise their concerns and have their say.

If you’re concerned about a proposed or existing cellphone tower in the Rangitīkei, please contact the telecommunications company involved.

The other aspect is who controls radio frequency (RF) emissions. Local Government has no ability to control or regulate RF emissions including 5G. This sits with Central Government, through the Ministry of Health, and the NZ Standard 2772 for RF emissions, and is implemented through the NESTF. Our council only administers the NESTF and has no powers to regulate radio frequency.

What is 5G and how will affect New Zealand in 2020


Helpful links

For more information on NESTF head to https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/national-direction/national-environmental-standards/national-environmental-standards-0.

https://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/our-projects/hot-topics/5g-in-aotearoa-new-zealand/

https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/7483-5g-information-pack-pdf

https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/environmental-health/radiation-environment/cellsites-and-5g

What are the regulations for installing cell phone towers?

In 2016, the Government introduced the NESTF, made under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA). The NESTF provides a national planning framework that allows network operators to install a wide range of low impact telecommunications infrastructure, such as cellphone towers, in road reserves without the need to apply for resource consent, provided they meet certain conditions.

More information on NESTF standards can be found here: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma/national-direction/national-environmental-standards/national-environmental-standards-0.

What conditions need to be met for telecommunications infrastructure to get the go ahead?

They must meet specified conditions around size, location, noise and radiofrequency. These matters are covered by the NESTF. In the event the activity was not permitted and a resource consent was required, Council can only consider the effects relating to the rule breach(es). Council will monitor the conditions of the resource consent to ensure on-going compliance.

What about radiofrequency emissions?

The NESTF includes controls around radiofrequency emissions from cell sites. The New Zealand exposure standard, NZS 2772.1172, is designed to limit public exposures to levels at least 50 times below those at which harm might occur. You can find out more about the standards at https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/environmental-health/non-ionising-radiation/radiofrequency-field-exposure-standard.

Does the Council have any control around where cell phone towers are located?

Only with regard to potential impacts to existing infrastructure. Council must ensure the integrity of the road reserve is not impacted. Then as long as the cell phone tower meets the NESTF and Rangitīkei District Plan restrictions around height and other issues, there is little Council can do. Even if a resource consent is required, Council can only process the application for the location that has been applied for and has no ability to direct the telecommunications company to an alternative location. Council’s hands are legally tied.

What if the community doesn’t want it?

Under legislation, telecommunication facilities are not prohibited, so Council is legally bound to accept any application for processing. Resource consent applications of this nature are also site-specific, and Council can only process an application for the location it is proposed. Where a resource consent is required, Council can only consider the effects relating to the rule breach(es).

Why do cell phone towers need to be erected on urban streets? Why can’t they be in rural areas?

By law, Council cannot stop a telecommunications company from placing a cell phone tower in an urban area. The location of cell phone tower sites is at the sole discretion of the telecommunications provider. Telecommunications companies have their own technical requirements for location to optimise coverage, and some facilities need to be located in urban areas to achieve this.

But if a cell phone tower is on a public berm surely you do have a say?

If it is a permitted activity, Council cannot stop cell phone towers being erected on public road reserves if they comply with NESTF standards and the Rangitīkei District Plan. Where a resource consent is required, Council can only consider the effects relating to the rule breaches, and has no ability to decline an application because it is located in a public road. Cell phone towers can also be built on private land if the landowner agrees.

In the last few years, there have been a number erected across the district. As long as they comply with NESTF standards and the Rangitīkei District Plan, Council has had no control over where they go.

Do I have a say in where cell phone towers are erected?

Telecommunication providers are encouraged to consult with the community so residents can raise their concerns and have their say. Following consultation, the telecommunications provider can then weigh up if they should be looking for alternative locations. The telecommunications provider makes the final decision over location.

What’s the process for consultation?

The obligation to consult is on the telecommunications provider. Please contact the company for more information on their consultation processes.

Will a cell phone tower in my neighbourhood impact the value of my property? What can Council do about it?

We’re not in a position to assess or make comment on current or potential property values. That’s outside the scope of services Council provides, and the matters that we are able to consider under a resource consent.

Will more towers lead to better internet?

Unfortunately we don’t have that information. You would be best to contact the telecommunications company for more specific information.