PROTESTERS have hit out at plans for a mobile phone mast overlooking picturesque Cown Reservoir.

Telecoms giant Orange are making a third bid for a 15-metre high mast locally, on land off High Barn Lane, Whitworth.

Earlier this year another application, for similar equipment on land near Whitworth Water Ski, was turned down by Rossendale planners on the grounds that it would spoil the view in the green belt.

And another bid, also near Cowm Reservoir, in woodland, was turned down because of similar countryside concerns.

Orange wants to relocate its mast for the Whitworth and Cowm area because it is in the process of removing its base at the nearby Orama Mill.

But the council’s development control section has received more than 400 letters and e-mails from protesters asking for the new scheme to be blocked.

Dr Sandra Westen, opposition spokesman, said: “The campaign to stop this mast is firmly of the belief that this natural beauty spot, which is a much cherished and well-used green area, will be compromised by such an installation, to the detriment of the visual amenity of this ecological habitat.

“We have had great support from local people and the message we are sending to the council is loud and clear, we do not want this mast because it will be ruinous for this great Whitworth amenity.”

The proposals, which have been recommended for approval by planning officers, will be debated at a meeting of Rossendale council’s planning committee, at Hardman Mill, Rawtenstall, next Monday.

Plannning officials say that while the mast will have some degree of effect on the countryside outlook, the developer had addressed previous problems and sited the prospective mast away from residential areas.