A NEW mobile phone mast for Laverstock has been given the go-ahead despite the misgivings of both residents and local councillors.

A planning inspector has upheld an appeal by Vodafone against the decision of Salisbury District Council to refuse the application for the 13.4m pole on land at Riverside Road.

People living near the site say the mast will be intrusive and out of place and should not be placed in an area designated as being of high ecological value.

Fears have also been raised about the possible effects on health, although the government maintains phone masts are safe and guidelines do not allow such worries to be taken into consideration as part of the planning process.

The council refused the application, against the advice of its own planning officers, in March, but planning inspector David Wildsmith has judged the firm should be allowed to go ahead.

The inspector’s report states: “I acknowledge the characteristics of the surrounding area have restricted the options for locating an additional 3G base station to serve the surrounding locality in a satisfactory manner, and that the proposed mast’s appearance would be noticeable within the street scene.

“But, on balance, I conclude the mast’s appearance and visual impact would not be unduly prominent, and the appeal site would, therefore, be an acceptable location which would minimise the proposed development’s environmental impact.”

Vodafone already has permission for a pole of similar height on land at Cow Lane, but does not own the site and has made no progress in putting a mast there.

A spokesman for Vodafone said: “We are pleased that the planning inspectorate has allowed the appeal of the refusal by the local planning authority.

“We believe this is the best site to provide improved 3G coverage to our customers in the area.”