COUNCIL bosses today said they had to approve a controversial mobile phone mast because their hands were tied by government guidelines.

It comes after a mast for St Silas Church, St Silas Road, Blackburn, was given planning permission.

The mast will replace a flagpole and would have three phone antennae inside.

The Government has said there is no conclusive evidence of links between phone masts and health problems.

And Coun Andy Kay, executive member for regeneration, said: "Like all councils, our planning decisions have to be made in line with national planning policy.

"Because of this, we are not allowed to turn down planning permission for a mast like this on the grounds of public health."

Today, resident Danielle Ellis said she would fight the plans and appealed to the church to re-think the plan.

Ms Ellis, who lives behind the church in Azalea Road, said she had serious concerns about the radiation from phone masts.

She said she had not ruled out appealing the planning decision, and was hoping to arrange a protest outside the church.

The mother-of-three appealed for any other neighbours with concerns to get in touch.

"I am so disappointed in the council for not protecting our children.

"And I am horrified at the church for inflicting this upon us which goes totally against the church's teaching," she said.

Ms Ellis whose children are aged 10, six and two, said the church was near to three nursing homes and five primary schools, and the council was wrong not to take into account health risks or even perceived health risks.

Before the plans were heard in front of the committee, nearby schools Al-Asr Primary School and Westholme School both wrote to object to the plans.

The letter from Al-Asr stated: "If the council wants to go ahead and let mobile corporations put up transmitters in residential areas then for goodness' sake let's not put them near our schools."

Canon Arthur Ranson, said: "The church council considered this carefully, the proper consultation has taken place and we have been given planning permission."

He said the mast still had to be approved by the Faculty Jurisdictions of the Church of England, which decides on material changes to churches. This could take between four and eight weeks.

"It will help us financially in these difficult days, I can't deny that, but I would say that it's not a fantastic amount," he said.

The council has been given assurances by the applicant, a company which acts on behalf of mobile phone companies, that the mast will be operated with independently set safety guidelines.