UPDATE: Vic regulator to reconsider Hutchison 3G tower decision

Victoria's planning regulator will reconsider a decision it made last year in favour of Hutchison over the legality of 3G equipment it installed on a St. Kilda public housing building last year.

Victoria's planning regulator will reconsider a decision it made last year in favour of Hutchison over the legality of 3G equipment it installed on a St. Kilda public housing building last year.

A full bench of the Victoria's Supreme Court last week partly overturned a ruling by the court in August 2003 ordering the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to reconsider an appeal by Victoria's Director of Housing, which is attempting to force the carrier to obtain a planning permit for the facility.

Hutchison installed its equipment on the housing building without a planning permit in August 2002.

The state's Director of Housing, which owns the building, sought an order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to block the construction. Lawyers representing the Director of Housing argued that the installation was illegal under federal telecommunications legislation introduced in 1997 giving carriers more power to install mobile transmission equipment without local council approval.

Under the Telecommunications Act 1997 carriers are exempt from local planning laws if their equipment is deemed to be "low impact".

VCAT rejected the public housing authority's appeal but later Victorian Supreme Court Justice Balmford found that the tribunal "erred in law" on the question of the facility's impact and ordered it to reconsider the matter.

Hutchison's today won its appeal contesting Justice Balmford's decision on the matter. The Supreme Court tribunal ordered that the decision be sent back to VCAT "but only on a limited basis".

Hutchison today said it was pleased with the court's decision and called it a victory.

The case is one of number of legal skirmishes that that have erupted throughout Australia between the carriers and local councils that are grappling with community concerns about the proliferation of 3G telecommunications equipment in the midst of residential and community spaces.

The legal battles frequently centre on the federal telecommunications legislation's low impact determination.

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