RESIDENTS staged a protest on Saturday against a proposal for a mobile telephone mast in Merley.

Mum-of-two Sarah Harding, of Lynwood Drive, said they were unhappy and they set up the Lynwood Drive Residents Group to fight the application.

Mrs Harding, 39, said: "It's called a lamp post swap out mast. What T-Mobile wants is to take one of the street lights out and replace it with a telephone mast with the antennae on the top.

"The reason we are concerned is the extremely close proximity to housing. It will be 26 metres from my house and my neighbour's. We have health worries and the mast will be on green belt.

"There's research that we have come across that suggests that bats and nesting birds are affected by emissions from the mast.

"We are questioning whether mast-sharing has been considered."

Mrs Harding said they were not against phone masts, but they wanted them to be in sensible sites.

Borough of Poole councillor Peter Maiden said he wanted the issue discussed at a meeting, before the statutory time period elapsed so the application was not automatically approved, so he could put forward residents' views.

"It's on green belt," he said.

"T-Mobile have to show there are extraordinary circumstances to put it there. The council's preference is to a single mast and multiple users.

"People need mobile phones, they need coverage.

"I think T-Mobile could be more sensitive about where they place the antennae."

A T-Mobile spokesman said the company tried to not add additional items on the street such as extra masts, and he said low level radio signals such as the mast would emit also came from things in the home like televisions, radios, wi-fi connections and other appliances.

He added: "We have got a responsibility for ensuring the quality and reliability that our services are maintained to the kind of levels the public expects.

"We have got to have that infrastructure to deliver these services."

The issue will be tabled at a meeting in August.