A PLAN by mobile phone giant Orange to build a radio base station next door to a school has sparked outrage.

Sandra Winter, head teacher at Oakview School in Whitehills Road, Loughton, said it was "absolutely ridiculous" to even consider building the mast next to her school's grounds.

Orange's original application to build the station - which includes a 12m freestanding column, three sectored antennas, one transmission dish, and four equipment cabinets - next to the school's playing field has been refused by officers from the district council, but the company has suggested it will appeal the decision.

Mrs Winter said: "I'm extremely against it. I don't want it anywhere near the school. I understand it has to go somewhere, but I don't think they should put it anywhere where it's a risk to schools. We are part of the healthy school's scheme. To put a mast anywhere near our school seems absolutely ridiculous."

She added: "The information that came from Orange was there are no proven risks to health. But there is always the potential of risk and there are a lot of people in the local area who complained. Also, it's an eyesore."

Orange has said the new mast is necessary because a current one on the school grounds, which was constructed under an agreement when the previous head teacher was there, could soon be removed.

Mrs Winter said: "We are campaigning to get rid of that. It puts parents off coming here when they see it. The governing body are working with Essex. We are told it could take 12 months. I definitely would like to get rid of it."

The school's ward councillor John Markham has said he will also campaign against a base station.

He said: "I think with these masts we have to consider things carefully. I'm not happy about the health risks - it's the first thing people think about.

"It's always a worry when there are children involved."

Orange spokesman Martin Grey confirmed to the Guardian his company was likely to ask the Planning Inspectorate for a review of the application's refusal.

He said: "The proposal would be similar to that used across the country and would rest against a backdrop of mature trees; this would limit the visual intrusion."

He added: "There have now been more than 30 expert scientific reviews published during the past eight years in the UK and around the globe, including by the World Health Organisation.

"The independent reviews have found no adverse health effects caused by mobile phone technologies operating within stringent international guidelines."