Queensland court overturns $136k costs ruling in failed NBN tower battle

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Queensland court overturns $136k costs ruling in failed NBN tower battle
File photo: an NBN fixe wireless tower.

But upholds dismissal of the case.

A Queensland man who lost a court battle over having an NBN tower near his house will no longer have to pay NBN Co $136,000 in costs.

The case - and specifically the costs ruling - made brief headlines in January last year, and led to a crowdfunding effort that raised about $25,000.

David Evans, of Peachester in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, said at the time his case was dismissed and that “barring a miracle, it looks like I’ll lose my house in order to pay NBN Co their fees.”

“However, I wish to go back and appeal this decision,” he wrote. “All I’ve ever wanted is to have my day in court.”

That day came in August last year, and over a year later, a judgment delivered on September 16 upheld the dismissal of Evans’ case, but slashed the costs award from $136,000 to $1750.

The original $136,000 award was broken down as “$20,000 for experts, $80,000 for solicitors and $36,000 for counsel.”

Evans argued against the tower, which also hosts equipment from mobile carriers, on health grounds - specifically exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

Sometimes called electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome or EHS, it has been infrequently tested in court cases in Australia, and with mixed results. 

The magistrate in the original case was “of the view that the filing of the complaint effectively acts or is an abuse of process” and dismissed it with costs.

On appeal, the court exhaustively analysed the evidence filed for the original case but ultimately upheld the earlier dismissal, though with a far smaller costs award.

The crowdfunding page has not been updated since the appeal judgment.

iTnews sought comment from Evans via the ‘Peachester NBN tower’ public Facebook group. 

An NBN Co spokesperson welcomed the case's dismissal, which otherwise may have impacted the operation of the tower.

"We welcome the decision, which ensures we can continue to make our fixed wireless services available to the local Peachester community," the spokesperson said.

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