CONTROVERSIAL plans to install an 18-metre mobile phone mast have suffered another set-back, after local councillors agreed to support residents’ objections.

Telecommunications company Vodafone may also now need full planning permission for the mast, which it wants to build on farmland, close to houses, in Sandy Bank, Northallerton.

The site of the proposed mast is close to the ward boundaries of Romanby parish and Northallerton town councils.

At a meeting of the parish council last night, members voted to write to Hambleton District Council, the local planning authority, expressing support for objectors.

It is claimed that more than 100 homes would be within view of the mast, which would be 15 metres tall, with a three metre antenna stalk on top of that.

Parish councillor Bob Beavers spoke on behalf of Councillor Tony Mawer, who was unable to attend the meeting.

He said: "Tony has asked if we could send a letter from the parish council, in support of the objectors.

"This is on health concern grounds, it is nothing to do with unsightliness or property values."

Objector Gavin Leach, who has accused Vodafone of a "lack of communication" over the plans, said growing opposition may force the company to obtain formal planning permission.

The height of the planned mast fell short of needing the go-ahead from district councillors.

However, because there is sufficient opposition, a full planning application may now need to be submitted.

Mr Leach, of Regency Court, close to where the mast would be installed, said: "We are delighted that our local councillors are supporting us.

"We are hopeful that some progress is being made."

Vodafone say the site for the mast was chosen after 15 other sites were considered.

Mr Leach said: "I would like to know about the other locations.

"Vodafone also said that the proposed site provides a backdrop of trees, and would not be visually intrusive.

"That is rubbish.

"It does not matter where you stand, it would still be seen."

A Vodafone spokesman said: "The radio base station is required to improve coverage to customers.

"An application for prior approval for the siting and design of the station was made on September 24.

"We are awaiting the decision of the council whether to grant or refuse the prior application, which must be made within 56 days of submission."