A CHURCH has been given permission to install controversial mobile phone masts in its tower – despite the fears of parish-ioners and residents.

A top judge has given the go ahead for the Church of St Stephen, in Oxford Road, Burnley, to house four structures for mobile phone giant 02 despite worries about potential health risks. Other equip-ment will also be stored in the basement.

The bid was originally green lit in 2006 but a court backtracked to consider complaints from parishioners and people living close to the church.

Now a judge at London’s Consistory Court has said the bid, which will earn the church £60,000 over 10 years, can go ahead to raise money for the parish’s “tough area”.

However furious reside-nts have blasted the decision saying they are concerned about the health implica-tions of phone mas-ts, which research has shown produce tiny amounts of radiation They say the bid is even more controv-ersial as St Stephen’s is close to schools and nurseries, and masts should not be allowed until they are proved 100 per cent safe.

Dennis O’Brien, 61, who lives in Smalley Street, which runs alongside the church, said: “These masts really bother me. From what I have heard they are not good for your health. It really is a worry.”

Another Smalley Street resident, 64-year-old Jam-es Ferry, added: “Ever-ybody in this road objected to it when it was first floated in 2006 because we just don’t want them.”

“We have got genuine concerns about masts being near houses and the radiation off the masts. We don’t want them in a church near houses and young children.

“It is inappropriate to have a mast in a church anyway and they should not be making money out of it.”

Back in June 2006, Judge Bullimore, of the Consi-story Church, granted 02 permission to build the masts in the church.

However, he later chang-ed his mind so he could listen to the concerns of parishioners and nearby residents who wished to object.

But now he has again approved the plan, mirroring similar cases in the court when fears were raised over dangers to health of phone masts.

Judge Bullimore said: “It is beyond what is poss-ible to demonstrate there is no risk at all from what is relatively new techn-ology; but, realistically, we all live with risk in our daily lives.

“This is a tough area in which the vicar and congregation seek to live out the gospel and serve the community.”