AN Alresford mother has lost her fight against the siting of a controversial piece of mobile phone equipment - even though it was put up without planning permission.

Members of Winchester City Council's telecommunications sub-committee gave retrospective permission for a dish antennae on the roof of the BT exchange in Station Road.

Rebecca Shepherd, 41, was concerned that micro-radiation from the dish would fall across several hundred homes but, at Monday's meeting, she was told her fears were unfounded.

The mother of two, from Nursery Road, said afterwards: "It was a battle I was never going to win. The council's hands are tied by the parameters that are laid down and the research hasn't caught up yet."

Earlier, she told planners: "This is obvious micro-radiation so why should it be placed near young and old people?"

The committee heard that, along with Mrs Shepherd's objection, New Alresford Town Council had passed on the concern of young mothers about possible health risks.

Apologising for the oversight, Peter Lynes, radio planner, said BT had failed to apply for permission for the radio dish, which transmits to another mast at Western Court Farm 0.95km away, because it had not been realised that the site fell within the conservation area.

Mr Lynes said it was important to realise that the dish was not a mobile phone mast and did not have 360o emissions.

Instead, he said the dish transmitted radio signals in one direction to link up with O2 and O2 Airwave networks - allowing those operators to cover a greater area.

He said emissions were far less than those from a mobile phone mast and that the chances of spillage were zero.

Planning officer, Abby Fettes, told the committee that the issue to consider was the visual impact of the mast, because of its location in a conservation area. Health risks, she said, could be taken into account, but were not a material consideration, because emissions were well below permitted levels.

The officer added that the beam from the dish was not orientated towards any schools, all of which were more than 200 metres away from the dish.

Frank Pearson, Conservative member for Swanmore and Newtown, who voted, along with the rest of the committee, said: "This is different technology from a mobile telephone mast and there's little spillage."

Another member, Neil Baxter, said: "I can't see any reason to reject this."

The committee voted unanimously to allow the retrospective planning permission on the condition that the dish was painted black and that some of the electrical components were removed and placed inside the exchange.