CONTROVERSIAL plans to upgrade a mobile phone mast have been given the go-ahead.

Hundreds of residents objected to proposals to improve the 15m-high O2 mast in Green’s Lane, Hartburn, near Stockton.

But members of the Stockton Borough Council planning committee voted on Wednesday to allow the scheme to go ahead.

Vodafone will be allowed to add to the mast, making it 13cm wider, despite already owning one about 200m away.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Jennie Beaumont said: “It is not right for it to be so close to someone’s living room.

“We can’t object on health grounds because of what the experts say, but we are allowed to look at site and design.

“No-one would like to have it outside their homes.”

Coun Steve Walmsley said: “We are elected here to represent the people and if they have concerns we should respect them.

“Just because the Government experts say there is no health risk, it doesn’t mean we have to trust them.

“I have had concerns about these masts ever since their introduction.”

Coun Jim Beall said: “We can’t refuse it on health grounds.”

The shared mast is believed to be the first of its kind in the area.

Campaigners from the Precautionary Approach to Microwave Technologies group have vowed to continue to fight the decision.

The group is concerned on health grounds and also because it could lower the value of their homes.

Parent Jayne Patworth, who lives near the mast, said: “Why do we need this upgrade when there is an existing Vodafone mast just 200m away?

“The upgrade is based on financial gain rather than need.

“We are worried about the long-term health dangers.”

Another resident, Clint Crisp, who is making a film on the effects of the mobile phone mast, said he knew of a number of residents who believed they had suffered health problems as a result of the mast.

“We just want to be safe,” he said. “We are concerned they (the Government) say the masts are safe. We will pursue this decision.”