Drilling Night Works on River Road and River Road West Lane Cove – March 2024

    Have you heard the night work along River Road and River Road West Lane Cove for the last month? The noise has travelled to Riverview, Longueville, Northwood, and Lane Cove. You may have also seen large equipment, drilling trucks, cables, and pits with orange netting around them on River Road and River Road West.

    Readers contacted In the Cove, asking us to investigate the source of the noise.

    What are the Night Works on River Road and River Road West Lane Cove?

    XenithIG, are installing cabling for one of their clients.

    A XenithIG, spokesperson said they had signed a non-disclosure agreement and could not reveal why they were installing cabling along River Road and River Road West.

    A quick search of their website shows that they install cabling for Data Centres and Dark Fibre.  A Dark Fibre network, sometimes referred to as unlit fibre, refers to fibre optic cables with no service or traffic running on them – an unused point-to-point connection. It’s called ‘dark’ because the cables aren’t lit by a light signal.

    Why Were Residents Not Informed About the Work?

    According to a spokesperson for XenithIG, Lane Cove Council only asked them to notify residents where access to their premises was impacted.

    As the noise carries, a general heads up about the noise would have been appreciated.  Residents could have obtained some earplugs and possibly some eye masks as the machinery used in the work has bright flashing lights.

    The following comments were posted on Lane Cove Chat by ITC

    The night works were due to be finished by 29 March 2024. However, the recent wet weather will no doubt delay that end date.  We also spoke to the subcontractor responsible for the drilling and he told us there had been some delay with obtaining approvals and information from other utility suppliers (such as Jemena Gas).

    Why is a For-Profit Communications Company Allowed to Install Cabling on Council Land?

    Telecommunications carriers have powers under Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 to install ‘low-impact’ facilities and to maintain any kind of telecommunications facility. They are not required to lodge development applications or comply with planning laws. This is called the carriers’ powers and immunities framework.

    The carriers’ powers and immunities framework were implemented to permit the construction and maintenance of telecommunications networks in a nationally consistent way.

    According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) low-impact facilities are telecommunications equipment that:

    • are essential to the efficient operation of telecommunications networks.
    • have low visual impact, and
    • are unlikely to cause significant community disruption during installation or operation.

    These laws encourage telecommunications carriers to roll out networks using components that fall within strict type, size, colour, and location limitations.

    These powers do not allow for the construction of larger infrastructure, such as free standing telecommunications towers or poles.

    Was the Lane Cove Council Made Aware of the Night Works?

    A council spokesperson provided the following information:

    “I can confirm that Council is aware of works undertaken by XenithIG for cabling related to a datacentre.

    We did meet with the company involved last year, and while the Council tries to provide advice and opportunities to guide their inclusion of local preferences (for example, related to trees and to remind them that in addition to general notification, we would expect notification of those immediately impacted by driveway works), ultimately these works are notified under The Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth).

    It is our understanding that they are notifying immediate residents as they move along the length of the works; however, owing to it being nightworks under their TfNSW Road Occupancy Licence, it’s not just those in the immediate vicinity who are impacted. The most up to date information on the length of the works and if they are successfully implementing their noisiest works earlier in the night are best answered by the contractors via the number they provided.

    On a positive note, we understand that the verge restoration will include re-laying the turf rather than removing and only implementing the minimum seed dispersal, a request the Council made prior to the works commencing.

    While plans are afoot on the notification of Council-works via our website, third-party notifications aren’t part of that initial planning process.”

    Should Lane Cove Council Notify Residents of Noisy Work by Lane Cove Council Contractors and Third Parties?

    It’s good to see Lane Cove Council is looking to include council works on its website.

    ITC is sure locals would appreciate a heads-up about works approved by Lane Cove Council but undertaken by a third party. The notification could include a caveat that the information is current at the time of publishing; however, Lane Cove Council has no control over a third party’s work schedule.