SAFETY fears over mobile phone masts could slash the value of nearby homes in the North-East, it is feared.

The concern have been sparked by a couple in Bolton, Lancashire, who had to call off a move after the value of their house was slashed by almost two thirds when a transmitter was erected 50ft away.

Diane Cooke has been campaigning against a proposed mast in the Grounds of St Paul's School, Wolviston.

Mrs Cooke said health fears were her main worry, but the effect of value on houses was also a consideration.

She said: "I think people have a valid worry. A few of the residents in Wolviston are worried, even though they don't live particularly close to it.

"When I first rang the council about it, they said they would be painting it a lovely green so it would blend in - they thought it was really good of them.

"If you ask anybody if they would have a house which had a mast nearby or one that didn't, you know what they would choose. They are horrible things - even if they are painted green."

In 1994, David and Wendy Jackman, of Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough, were told that the value of their house could fall by £15,000 if a proposed phone mast were erected outside.

Darlington estate agent Peter Freitag said he did not know of any specific examples of houses losing value because of a mobile phone mast.

But he said he believed people could be put off from buying a house near a transmitter.

He said: "Like so many other things, whether they is actually a health risk is secondary to the perceived risk.