PHONE mast campaigners are steeling themselves for another planning fight with a mobile phone giant after winning a victory but not the war.

Hook residents handed out leaflets and attached posters to their wheelie bins in their campaign to stop O2 from putting up an 18.5metre-high mast at the Gas Compound in Reading Road.

Hart district councillors have now backed their protest and refused planning permission on the grounds that the site was not suitable - but O2 has vowed to appeal against the decision.

Jim Stevenson, O2's communications relations manager, said the company was surprised by the councillors' decision, which went against the recommendation of planning officers to grant the application.

He said: "We have put in an appeal. We were quite confident that we were going to get this one.

"What we are trying to do is get the network for the people who want to use it. O2 has over 67 million customers and we want to serve the needs of those customers so that they have access to the network when they want it."

Carl Evans, who lives in John Morgan Close, off Reading Road, has said the protesters will carry on campaigning against the mast.

He said: "We are really pleased about it getting rejected by the council, but we are not going to lie down for the appeal."

Residents are worried that the mast is less than 150 yards away from homes and would be the height of four buses.

Mast opponent Jill Forsyth, who also lives in John Morgan Close, said: "This is a semi-rural area and we live here because we like to live in the countryside, and to have a massive mast here would be terrible."