PLANS for a fourth phone mast on a Yate street which were thrown out by South Gloucestershire Council have been approved on appeal.

Paul Dignan, from the Planning Inspectorate, has given mobile phone firm Vodafone the go ahead to erect a 12-metre high mast on Shire Way.

Following a visit to the road, where there is already an O2 mast and two others are planned by company 3, Mr Dignan found that another mast would be in-keeping with the local area.

He said: "The mast would be located between, and in line with, 8-metre high lighting columns, and would be painted to match.

"The mast and associated equipment would be clearly visible from the public highway, but such utilitarian structures are commonplace along roadsides in urban areas and would blend fairly satisfactorily with the local environment."

Vodafone applied for planning permission for the mast to fill a gap in the firm’s third generation (3G) network.

The company said it had looked at alternative sites, including Shire Way Community Centre and at a railway access point in Littledean which were both suggested by the council, but found neither would provide adequate coverage.

People living in the area say they will be living in ‘phonemast’ alley if all four masts are built. Despite the planning inspector’s findings, campaigners have vowed to carry on fighting the mobile phone companies.

Dodington parish councillor Mandy Sainsbury, who lives in Blaisdon, said: "We don’t dispute the need for sites, however, they could be located at other sites. They don’t have to be concentrated in one place.

"We have suffered one ugly monstrosity on our doorsteps but to have two is an insult.

"It makes a mockery of the democratic process and you really have to question the impartiality of the Planning Inspectorate."

Added Mr Dignan: "Whilst I have taken full account of the fears expressed by the local residents, I conclude that public health considerations should not alter my earlier conclusion that the operational need for the proposal should prevail."

Residents have written to new Secretary of State for Communities John Denham calling for the appeal decision to be overturned.