RESIDENTS face a tough battle in trying to stop a mobile phone mast being sited near their homes at Frimley.

They are being given a chance to comment on a proposal to erect the 49ft tall mast alongside an electricity sub-station and car park behind the High Street.

But their protests are likely to fall on deaf ears because mobile phone giant Hutchison 3G is being allowed to sidestep the planning process.

As the mast height is below 50ft, the company need only seek Surrey Heath Council's views about the scheme.

And the council is restricted to objecting to the siting and appearance of the mast.

A council spokeswoman: "Under Government legislation the siting of a mast of 15 metres or less is classed as permitted development."

In a further blow to the residents, the issue will not be discussed in public by the planning applications committee.

Instead it will be resolved behind closed doors by the chairman and vice-chairman, together with planning officers.

Mrs Edith Cripps, who is campaigning against the mast, said: "This has come out of the blue…they couldn't have chosen a worse place to put it."

The mast, which will have three antennae and a cabin, will tower above homes in Leonard Close where she lives.

"It will be an eyesore, and I'm also worried about the health issues," she said.

The deadline for submitting objections is next Tuesday. (August 20)