Residents in Bushey have criticised a mobile telephone network for “sneaking through” a mast application before Christmas.

A public consultation regarding O2's application for a communications mast in green belt land by Elstree Road started at the end of November and ended on Boxing Day.

Residents concerned about the impact the mast will have on their lives suggested the consultation was intentionally run during a time when many people were on holiday.

O2 communications manager Jim Stevenson strongly denied this saying the application had been ongoing since the start of the year and that the date of the consultation was unintentional.

Almost 50 people have signed a petition against the application, a previous version of which was refused by Hertsmere Borough Council in August.

Melanie Keaney, of Elstree Road, who spearheaded the campaign against the network, said the mast would be an “eyesore” similar to another mast in the nearby Spire Bushey Hospital, and a potential health hazard for residents.

The 38-year-old said: “We used to think lead was safe and smoking was something it was ok to do. Masts haven't been around long enough for us to know what they do.

She added: “There is certainly the feeling that they did try to sneak it through during the holiday period.”

Regarding the health risk, Mr Stevenson said: “Nothing has come out of any theory that says it will cause harm to anyone. There is no scientific evidence at all to support the claims and all of them have been very strongly researched and tested.”

After reading these comments, Henrik Eiriksson of an "international community of people suffering adverse health effects from masts and antennas in the vicinity of their homes", dismissed them as "completely untrue".

He said: "If you examine the World Health Organisations research database you will find that 80 per cent of studies on people living near mobile-phone masts show harm to health and quality of life of." These alleged effects include "horrifying" reports of brain cancer, headaches and ear-ringing.

Regarding the damage to the green belt Mr Stevenson said the new design of the mast was thinner than the previous design in order to minimise its impact on the environment.

He added that the mast was necessary because of new housing developments in the area and would improve many residents' mobile phone reception.

He invited anyone with any concerns or comments to get in touch with O2.

The petition against the mast can be viewed and signed at