Amateur Repeaters on NSW Crown Land Slugged with Huge Rent Increases
The NSW Department of Lands has announced a Communications Facility Site Licensing scheme which may force some amateur radio clubs to shut down repeaters located on Crown land, or face huge increases in site licence fees.
Phil Wait - VK2DKN
The scheme will require the operator of a "Telecommunications Facility" including an amateur radio communications facility (all site users including Primary Users and third-parties) to pay the Department of Lands a yearly licence fee for the use of each site. An amateur radio facility will be charged $367 per year (CPI indexed and subject to 5 yearly review) which is the minimum amount prescribed under the NSW Crown Lands act.
The WIA has reviewed the Licence Agreement which appears to have been drafted in a form primarily suitable for large commercial telecommunications and media organizations, and we are concerned that the agreement does not adequately address the needs or reflect the current arrangements in place for community amateur radio clubs.
In particular, the WIA believes the indicated charges and fees may severely disadvantage affected amateur radio clubs to the point where they will no longer be able to provide and maintain their repeater and beacon facilities.
The WIA is also concerned that, in cases where the amateur radio equipment is located in the facilities of a Primary User, under the terms of the agreement the Primary User is able to impose an additional fee on third-party occupiers. As third-party occupiers are already paying licence fees directly to the Dpt, In effect, an amateur radio club could end up paying twice.
However some clubs, especially those with only one repeater, may find the scheme to their advantage as it does provide 20 year secure tenure for occupation of the site.
The WIA has written to the NSW Department of Lands calling for a formal review of the proposed arrangements based on the fact that amateur radio clubs are not telecommunications services, but rather are not-for-profit organizations providing valuable voluntary community service.
The WIA believes that amateur radio clubs should have the choice of being exempt from paying licence fees.
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