WORRIED Poole residents have pledged to fight plans for a mobile phone mast installation on an unique Victorian water tower.

Operator T-Mobile wants to put up three antennae and other base station equipment on top of the Grade II-listed water tower in Broadstone.

But campaigners say the plans will spoil the character of the historic building and also fear possible health risks to local residents and children at a nearby school.

Eric Hill, who lives on Water Tower Road, said: "While there is no evidence to prove that these installations are dangerous to health in any way, equally there is no evidence to prove they are not."

And he didn't agree with T-Mobile's claims that the mast installation would be more than 250 metres away from nearby Broadstone Middle School, which has 600 pupils.

"I believe it is within 200 metres of the water tower, meaning that hundreds of children will fall within the radiation plume of this installation."

He added: "The timing of this application prevents concerned parents being properly informed of the proposal."

Fellow Water Tower Road resident Duncan Riddell said: "As a Grade II listed building, the beautiful water tower deserves to be protected from the defacement the proposed T-mobile phone masts would cause."

And neighbour Paul Arnold said the tower was an "exceptional example of Victorian architecture".

Mr Arnold, whose house lies within 40 metres of the mast, added that he was also "extremely concerned" about the potential health risks to his family and three young children.

The tower already supports two thin mobile masts and in 1999, operator Orange gained planning and listed building consent to put up six mobile antennae and other equipment, although the company has only so far installed a transmission dish.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile said that though the tower is a listed building, government guidance allows for "very special circumstances" which can outweigh any harm arising from phone masts.

The need to set up a comprehensive telecommunications network amounted to such special circumstances, said the company, and justification for the plans outweighed "any limited harm caused by its visual impact".

T-Mobile said the site was selected to be as far from sensitive sites as possible, while still providing the necessary level of coverage. Fears about possible health hazards arising from telecommunication equipment had not been substantiated, it adds