PHONE giant Vodafone has lost an appeal to overturn Wirral Council's refusal to grant planning permission for a new communications mast at Moreton.

The company's plans for a 9.4-metre G3 phone mast near a children's play area in Town Meadow Lane were rejected by Wirral's planning authority on April 22.

Vodafone submitted an appeal to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in November, just two days before the six-month appeal deadline came to an end.

The hope was that a Government planning inspector would quash the decision. But last week, residents living near the proposed site learned that the appeal had been dismissed following a site visit on January 5.

In his report, the inspector said the mast would have an "unacceptable impact" on the character and appearance of the area.

The news has been welcomed by protestors who claimed the mast would be a blot on the landscape. A petition of more than 150 signatures was handed in to the council's planning department.

Among the petitioners was John Owen, who lives in nearby Linear Park.

Welcoming news that the appeal had been lost, he told the Globe: "It's good to see that common sense has prevailed.

"Now I'm just hoping that we don't hear of another application for a phone mast a few hundred metres down the road and we'll have to go through it all again.”

Moreton West and Saughall Massie councillor Chris Blakeley had supported a campaign to prevent the application being approved.

He said: "This is great news and a great result for local residents. I think it’s a testament to their campaign.”

A spokesman for the company said: "Vodafone identified that it needs to improve the 3G coverage to our customers in Moreton and proposed a base station on Town Meadow Lane.

"Our customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live work and travel.

"Base stations are low powered which only cover approximately half a mile in radius and therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.

"We were dissapointed to learn that the inspector was minded to dismiss the appeal on 31st January 2011, citing that the pole would be uncharacteristic of the local street furniture.

"Vodafone still have a requirement to improve coverage in the Moreton area. We will consider the inspectors comments and see what advice he has provided within his determination as to siting and design of a mobile phone base station in the local area."