RESIDENTS have launched a protest against a mobile phone mast which they say will lead to health risks and the loss of trees.

It is just over a year since Hutchison 3G (H3G) were forced to abandon the use of a new base station at the Holly Tree pub in Moordown due to fierce local objections.

Now they face a similar battle in trying to get a mast erected on Castle Lane West to the rear of the Cotswold unit, with the council receiving 65 objections from residents.

John Dewar, who helped rally protestors, said: "They wanted to knock down these huge 90-year-old trees that are next to it if they interfere with the signal, which would be a disaster.

"We've lost so many trees around this area in recent years that we can't let these go."

Residents are also worried about the health implications of placing a mast in a residential area and adjacent to several busy shops.

"There's no conclusive evidence regarding radiation risks, but while there are still questions, we just don't want it around here.

"And once you've had one up, you get more."

Retailers are also angry about the apparent favouritism shown towards big companies.

Justin Cook, of Hollywood Fancy Dress, said: "We've tried to build a conservatory or move a couple of trees in our back yard, and we get turned down.

"But when a company like H3G shows up, they're allowed to tear them all down."

H3G spokesman Mike Dobson said: "H3G has been seeking to improve the reception for its mobile phone network in the Moordown, Muscliff and Redhill areas for some considerable time.

"This area is highways land and mobile phone operators are entitled to seek to use that. The proposed telecommunications base station would be a 15-metre ultra-slim street furniture pole with the antennas, which are located at the top of the pole, shrouded.

"In order for the installation to meet our technical requirements we are asking the council to agree to some modest trimming of trees next to the bus stop."