RESIDENTS fear a planned mobile phone mast will blight their neighbourhood and could threaten their health.

People at Gilesgate Moor in Durham City are campaigning against Vodaphone’s bid for a 14.8 meters tall mast, to be shared with 02, on a verge a few yards from homes in Peel Avenue.

Residents in Peel Avenue and neighbouring streets are launching a petition against the company’s prior approval application to Durham County Council, under which there are only limited grounds for objection.

The Government says health issues cannot be a reason to refuse a mast as the Stewart Report of 2000 concluded there was no general risk to health from base station emissions, although many people still have concerns.

"This is a residential area and this mast is something that everyone is wary of,’’ said Colin Jarrett, of Moor Crescent.

"There are concerns about health risks, it is unsightly and we are worried about the affect on house prices. We feel it shouldn’t be here.’’ Ken Thornley, of Peel Avenue, whose partner Jean Bryant is in remission from cancer, said: "It will be 20ft from our house. It shouldn’t be in a residential, it could put on open land up by Bannatyne’s. There is plenty of open land.’’ "It will be a little under 50ft and it is on raised ground so it will be bigger than the house. Even when you are in the garden it will be towering over you."

Paul Williamson, of Thrushcross Place, said residents were still concerned about the possible affects of emissions despite the Government’s stand on the matter.

Jean Bryant said : "We are all concerned that although we are all objecting there is little we can do apart from object on the visual aspect.

A spokesman for Durham Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said she "would prefer to see the mast in the Tesco car park, or in that vicinity, rather than near residents’ homes.’’ Allan Simpson, the council’s planning area team leader, said: "The application will be considered by the south and central area committee, whose members will take into account only those factors relevant to planning procedure."

Vodaphone was approached for a comment but the application agent who was due to respond did not do so.