MOST technology comes at a cost, and mobile phones are no exception. The ability to make and receive calls in the street, in the car or even at the top of a mountain is a wonderful thing, but the downside is the huge network of radio masts required to make the system function.

Not only are these masts often unsightly - despite the efforts of mobile phone companies to disguise them as trees or flagpoles - but some of us also suspect they are bad for our health.

They have not been proven to be so, but nor is there any definitive evidence that they are not.

So you can understand why the people of Hallow, near Worcester, are objecting to plans for a new phone mast in their village - especially as it is to be sited near a school.

Hallow is the latest in a long line of communities that have protested about phone masts in their midst, but it's unlikely to be the last.

Suspicions about phone masts, whether well-founded or not, are unlikely to go away.

Perhaps if it could be proved beyond doubt that the masts posed no health risks, people's fears would be allayed, but the research needed to achieve that has yet to be conducted.

Even then, people would object to the masts on aesthetic grounds, unless the phone companies can make them smaller and less obtrusive.

In the meantime, planning departments must treat the objections of people such as the Hallow protesters sympathetically and not allow masts to be put up in sensitive areas.