RESIDENTS have united to oppose a plan to put a 40 ft high phone mast just yards from a primary school.

Phone company Orange plans to build the antenna at the junction of Foxes Piece and Little Marlow Road.

The site is around the corner from Foxes Piece Combined School, which has a nursery, and Brooke Furmston Place, which provides sheltered accommodation for elderly people.

Residents have raised their objections with Wycombe District Council, which can force the company to submit a planning application.

They fear radiation from the "eyesore" mast could pose health risks.

However, an independent report commissioned by the Government in 2000 found radiation from phone masts, or base stations, was not dangerous.

The Stewart Report said "the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk" to health.

Radiation from the masts was a small fraction of the acceptable limit, it said.

Yet it warned further research may uncover health risks - and sites should therefore be chosen carefuly.

Charles Horth, 67, a consultant in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years, said: "The tobacco companies said, smoking isn't bad for you, people have been smoking for years'."

Mr Horth, who lives in Maple Rise, less than 40 metres from the proposed site, said: "It was only later that people started saying that smoking is a cause of cancer.

"Stewart is saying that we need to take a precautionary approach."

He said: "Orange wants to plonk it in a busy location near to a petrol station and a school and expect the community to say, thank you very much Orange, we're going to get good use out of this'."

Paul Lynch, of Foxes Piece, said parents "need to have peace of mind that their children are safe".

Carolyn Margetson, of Lower Road, Cookham, said: "I have grave concerns regarding the proposal as this is a residental area."

As the proposed mast is less than 45ft (15m) tall Orange does not have to apply to the district council for planning permission.

The authority can, however, force the developer to submit a planning application, which it can then accept or refuse.

Martin Grey, spokesman for Orange, said 30 "independent expert reviews" had found "no adverse health effects".

"Ofcom has undertaken more than 500 independent audits of base stations across the length and breadth of the UK.

"The measurements from these independent audits show emissions levels from base stations are typically small fractions of the international guidelines.

"The location balances the requirement to maintain local network coverage with respect for amenity, and our application follows extensive consultation with Wycombe District Council."