A DECISION to reject a mobile phone mast close to homes on the Lisburn Road could be appealed, a mobile network has claimed.

Planning Service, backed by local councillors at a City Hall committee meeting, refused an application to erect a communications mast at the junction of the Lisburn Road and Bawnmore Road.

Due to be used by the Vodafone and O2 mobile networks, the mast was set to stand 15 metres high outside the Bank of Ireland building, but local residents contacted South Belfast councillors to voice their concerns over the ‘base station’ potentially being yards from their homes. Some critics fear health implications due to living in the shadow of communications masts, although phone firms have stressed there is no proven scientific evidence to back these concerns.

However, a spokesperson for Vodafone UK, Llana Clark, told the South Belfast News that the firm, along with O2, would consider their options in relation to the application.

“We were disappointed that the local planning authority decided to refuse the application and as with all refusals, we will make a thorough review of the reasons for refusal and the potential alternatives available, including appealing the site.

“Our customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel. Base stations are low powered devices which only cover approximately half a mile in radius and therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.”

Meanwhile, Balmoral SDLP Councillor Claire Hannah said locals were relieved of the Planning Service decision.

“Residents along Bawnmore Road were happy to hear the location close to their houses would no longer be considered for the mast,” said Cllr Hannah.

“The decision was right, and I support it, but myself and the locals know that we still need these masts in order to use our phones.

“We just don’t want them so close to homes, especially when there’s industrial land so close by, as in this case, that would be more suitable. I would suggest they look to the Boucher area, which is close enough to be able to serve the whole area for network coverage.”