WORRIED residents left a council meeting disappointed after being told there was nothing that could be done about telecommunication equipment being added to a existing 30 metre mast in front of their homes.

Seven residents of Woodlands Grove, Padiham, went to Burnley Town hall to protest at plans to site two cabins at the foot of the mast so that it can be shared by Orange and BT Cellnet.

Janet Rushton said the mast, on land owned by Huntroyde estate, was put up about eight years ago without any consultation with the residents.

She said: "We knew nothing about it and there was no suspicion at that time about problems with radiation

"Just because the mast exists we don't see why it should have more buildings attached to it. We would rather it was moved altogether."

Residents complained that shrubs planted beneath the mast were dead or dying and that beech trees nearby had either blown down or died.

Mrs Rushton added: "It is an eyesore where we look out on to the countryside. It is very ugly. The position of the mast has maximum prominence in the area.

"The cabins will only make it uglier still."

Planning officer Paul Skinner said the the committee was limited to the issues of siting and appearance. The cabins would not be very prominent at the base of the mast and the applicants had agreed to carry out additional screen planting. Coun Charles Bullas told the residents he was sorry but they had no grounds by law to refuse it even though they did not agree with it.

"There is nothing we can do. Our hands are tied," he added.

Coun Frank Cant said: "I am dead against these masts. If this was a new application we would be horrified. This is a most ugly thing."

Head of planning services Sue Graham said until they received new information from the government they could only base their policy on national guidelines and accepted information on the safety issue.

After the meeting Mrs Rushton said she didn't know why the council went out to consultation if residents' views were then not taken into account.

The sub committee also approved the erection of four wall-mounted antennas and two wall-mounted air conditioning units at Victoria Works, Institute Street, Padiham.

There were no objections. Mr Skinner said the proposal was as unobtrusive as possible and replaced the proposals to site a mast on the fire brigade tower.