NEW plans for a mobile phone mast at a sports ground have sparked a campaign to stop the development.

Protest letters are being gathered over Vodafone’ s latest proposals to build a 44ft ‘monopole’ and land at Cherry Tree Cricket Club in Blackburn.

The telecoms company has said the mast is needed to improve mobile phone reception in the area and it is is shorter than a previous rejected 2012 application for a 50ft structure.

Neighbours of the club believe the mast is a potential health risk, unsightly and would be inappropriate next to a 130-year-old church, a pre-school and a primary school.

Protest organiser Bea Davidson, who lives on Cherry Tree Terrace, hopes to raise more than 70 objections to send to Blackburn with Darwen Council.

She said: “It is the wrong place.

“It will be very visible in the middle of residential neighbourhood and overshadow the 130-year-old Woodlands United Reformed Church.

“It is too close to the nearby St Francis Primary School and the church’s pre-school.

“We have health concerns the council does seem to take seriously.

“It it will ruin the view from windows Cherry Tee Terrace

“The fencing will be unsightly and claims that tree will screen the mast from view are not true.”

A spokesman for Vodafone said: “Vodafone and O2 have identified that they need to improve the coverage to their customers in Blackburn.

“This application is for a shorter structure in a less prominent location.

“All Vodafone and O2 base stations operate well within guideline safety limits, below these guidelines there is no evidence of adverse health effects for any members of the public.”

Club vice-chairman David Hayes said: “This mast will be in the far corner of the car-park by a large tree and far less obtrusive than the last proposal.”

Livesey with Pleasington ward councillor John Pearson said: “I am supporting the residents who are concerned about how it will look.

A decision will be made by the council later this year.