Children in Abbots Langley have written to planning inspectors urging them to block attempts to place a mobile phone mast close to their school.

Mobile phone operators O2 and Vodafone are appealing to the Secretary of State for the Environment to overturn Three Rivers District Council’s planning refusal for a 12.5m pole with six antennas in Abbots Langley.

They want to place the mast, which pupils and residents fear could give off high levels of radiation, on Gallows Hill Lane - close to Tanners Wood, Divine Saviour and Brakespeare schools.

The Stewart Report, published in May 2000, says masts should not be located less than 200m from any part of a school's grounds or buildings without the agreement of the school and parents.

Phil Gibbs, headmaster at Divine Saviour School, on Broomfield Rise, said: "I was only made aware of it when one of our neighbours alerted us. I put it in the school newsletter and have encouraged parents to write to the planning inspector.

"I just think where they want to site it is too close to several schools and we oppose it as we have done many, many times before.

"My main concern is for the potential health risks surrounding these things but there is also a feeling that we don't want a big mast around there."

A group of Year 6 pupils at Divine Saviour School have written to the planning inspector urging them to uphold the refusal at the hearing.

Amy Stewart, 11, said: "I think we shouldn’t have it here because it’s placed right outside our school."

Shay Russell, 11, said: "We don’t want a big phone mast because there are a lot of children around here and it could be bad for us. It will also look very ugly."

Victoria Allum, 11, said: "I don’t think it will be eco friendly either."

Village residents have spent more than a decade fighting off applications for mobile phone masts including on Bedmond Road, Broomfield Rise, Kitters Green and most recently for two on Gallows Hill Lane and Hazelwood Lane - the decision that is currently being appealed.

Three Rivers District Councillor and Abbots Langley Parish Councillor Sara Bedford said: "The main point we object to in the community is the proximity of the site to three schools."

Hillside Residents’ Association Chairman Peter Scott added: "The way this has gone on, it seems the phone companies just think they can ride roughshod over everyone and people will give way but we’re not going to do that."

No date had yet been set for a hearing but interested parties have until June 6 to comment on the appeal.

A Vodafone spokesman said: "We do understand some people have concerns about masts but if we are to provide the range of products and services so many of us depend on, we have to locate them where people use their devices - where they live, work and travel. This is even more essential given the increasing popularity of smartphones. "Masts are by their nature very low powered and might only cover a radius of half a mile so the services we are supplying are very much directed towards the local community. It's also worth noting that masts are designed to comply with guidelines to protect the public and the radio frequency fields we utilise are at their lowest close to them.

"As regards health, independent bodies like the World Health Organisation have stated that within guidelines, there is no proven evidence of any adverse health effect."