TEACHERS and residents have voiced their opposition to a bid to build a phone mast near three schools and a nursery.

Vodafone and Telefonica want to site a 12.5m-tall mast on the junction of Lexden Road and Sanders Avenue, Colchester.

However, the application has generated a fierce backlash.

Despite some scientists saying there are health concerns over living or studying near a mast, Colchester Council planners can only judge the application on its siting and appearance.

However, Gillian Marshall, the headteacher of Colchester County High School, said the health fears should not be dismissed.

The site of the proposed mast is a few hundred yards from the school, St Benedict’s College, St Mary’s School and Lexden Kindergarten.

Mrs Marshall said: “We are unconvinced there is conclusive evidence about the safety of phone masts.

“We have girls in our care, most of whom are here for seven years.

“We don’t know how much damage the emissions do and more research is needed.

“We don’t want to take a risk and we don’t want this mast near our school.”

A number of residents have also lodged official complaints with Colchester Council.

Dr James Sheldrick, of Lexden Road, said: “I am, once again, amazed at the desire to site phone masts where schoolchildren pass by and wait for the bus when being taken home after school.”

Christopher Hughes, of Lexden Road, added in his submission: “To site such ugly street clutter on what is quite a pretty street corner, in a generally attractive and partly conservation area road, is insensitive.”

Jeremy Connor, of Park Road, Ardleigh, whose daughter is a High School pupil, described the application as “ridiculously close to three secondary schools”.

He said: “With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the effect radio frequency fields could have on health, the erection of a mobile phone base station and mast should never be given any consideration whatsoever in an area such as Lexden Road.”

Vodafone spokesman Jane Frapwell said masts needed to be sited in urban areas to provide reception.

She said: “By their nature, masts are low-powered and will only cover a radius of half a mile.

“We need to locate them where people want to use their devices – there is an increasing demand, especially with smart phones.

“We have to make sure we give cover where it is needed and that is where people live and work.”

The consultation runs until June 15.