MOBILE operators will look at alternative sites for two proposed phone masts in Chafford Hundred following a public backlash against the plans.

O2 and Vodafone have offered to look at alternative sites following fears plans for 14-foot masts in Fenner Road and Warren Lane will be a health risk to nearby residents.

However, the offer has not pleased No Masts on Chafford - a local group set up to combat the plans.

Tracy Laws, 46, of Sylvans Close, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “It’s good they’re considering alternatives, but why do they want know where we want the masts to go?

“We’re not experts on planning laws, it should be up to their technical people to sort it out.”

More than 40 people attended a meeting with representatives of the mobile operators on Saturday to voice their concerns at the proposals.

They want to see the 3G masts moved to less densely populated locations because they fear they will emit higher radiation than normal masts.

Tory ward councilor Tunde Ojetola has written to the mobile companies urging them to abandon the proposals.

He said: “Until someone can categorically come out and tell us there are no health risks I think people will quite rightly remain concerned.”

The residents are also concerned they were not properly consulted about the proposals.

Mrs Law said: “Nobody seems to have heard about it, not the nearby residents, not the councillors or the schools.

“We want them to go back and start again so people are properly informed about what’s going on.”

O2, however, claim 40 letters were sent out.

The firm has said it will not be repeating the consultation but has upgraded the proposals from amber to red on its internal systems, to show the strength of residents’ objections.

Jim Stevenson, a spokesman for O2, said: “There are always going to be people who don’t want to see another mast in their area.

“We’ve got to balance their concerns with the needs of our customers, who currently don’t have very good 3G reception.”

Thurrock Council has 51 days to consider the application, however the authority is unable to refuse permission, it can only consider issues of apearance and siting.

No Masts on Chafford will be meeting again on Saturday, February 20, at Chafford Campus School, in Mayflower Road, from 1.30pm to 3.30pm to discuss developments in the campaign.