PROPOSALS to erect a radio base station next to Comberbach Methodist Church have been approved.

In December Vodafone and Telefónica applied to install a 17.5m mast and associated works in Senna Lane to help bolster 2G, 3G and 4G coverage in the area.

The application has been met with outrage in the village and at a packed meeting in January, Comberbach Parish Council voted to object the application.

Cllr Kevin Goulding, chairman of Comberbach Parish Council, said the council should have been consulted on the application before it was submitted, though they were only made aware on December 16.

He branded the application process a ‘fiasco’.

“Vodafone’s explanation was that they didn’t know Comberbach had a Parish Council,” he said.

“They never consulted with us. We found out very later in the day.”

A Vodafone spokesman said the company ‘mistakenly’ omitted Comberbach Parish Council out of their consultation process.

Once they realised their mistake they met with the parish council in January.

“We have identified that we need to improve the coverage to our customers in Comberbach and applied for a base station at Senna Lane,” the spokesman said.

“We consulted with the ward council, two local schools and the local MP as part of our pre-application consultation.

“Unfortunately, we mistakenly missed the local parish council from our pre-application consultation.

“When we realised this mistake we met with the chairman of parish council and the local ward councillors to discuss the proposal prior to the determination of this application.”

A number of residents have written to CWAC to object the plans, largely down to the location next to the church.

Rev Tim Simms, from Comberbach Methodist Church, declined to comment.

After being made aware of the application Comberbach Parish Council were granted two extensions by CWAC to give them enough time to respond.

During this time, an extensive document was submitted to the planning authority stating why the parish council opposed the proposals.

Cllr Goulding said: “We spent 400 hours writing a very large project that outlines all of our objections.

“It doesn’t appear that any of our objections have carried any weight.

“We have more than 400 signatures over various petitions. When you consider there are only 450 households in the village, it’s unbelievable.”

The proposals are part of the Government’s plans to boost mobile phone coverage in rural areas.

The radio base station will provide 2G, 3G and 4G coverage, covering approximately half a mile in radius.

A Vodafone spokesman said it identified Comberbach as an area that required improvement.