YARRA Ranges Council has expressed its frustration at the state government for knocking back an amendment to its planning scheme that updates guidelines on locations for new mobile phone towers.
The amendment to the shire's existing telecommunications policy emphasises the importance of the landscape and environmental values to the Yarra Ranges.
The council had sought to update its 1998 telecoms policy but the state government refused to authorise the change as it was "inconsistent" with state planning objectives.
Mayor Graham Warren said the council was disappointed with the decision. "It's hard to imagine how a one-size-fits-all approach works because we are quite different from a lot of other council areas," Cr Warren said.
"These phone towers can be as high as 40 metres and quite ugly. It's a slap in the face for residents who might come home one day and find a pole next to their house."
The new policy would have included requirements for telecom companies to demonstrate the need for a tower, examine the possibility of sharing it with another provider, and take into account the local landscape.
The council said it had got very little feedback on why the policy was knocked back and added that amending the telecoms guidelines in the planning scheme would help if an application was taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Cr Warren said Casey and Boorondara councils had their own telecoms strategies.
Last year, Yarra Ranges rejected three phone tower applications - Telstra's to build towers in Healesville and Seville and one by Optus to build in Lilydale.
Cr Warren said the state government having control would leave the council powerless in phone tower proposals in the shire.
Mobile phone blackspot areas in Yarra Ranges have been identified in areas such as Seville, Wandin East and parts of Healesville - highlighting that better services were needed.
A Lilydale resident who previously objected to a tower at Swansea Road said the decision by the state government to reject the council's planning policy amendment was a shame.
"The council is doing their best to be positive and proactive about this," said the resident, who did not wish to be named. "If these changes are to come into play then we, as residents, have no hope of objecting.
"The telecoms companies have the power and we are just the little people."