Midsomer Norton church wants phone mast on its tower
A church in Midsomer Norton plans to rent out its tower for a mobile phone mast to raise funds for its renovation.
A 21ft (6.5m) mast carrying mobile phone equipment for Vodafone could be set up on top of the tower of the parish church of St John the Baptist, in Midsomer Norton.
The church of St John the Baptist
The vicar, the Rev Christopher Chiplin, said the payment would prove vital in helping with high renovation costs.
"We could easily spend another £100,000 on internal work," he said.
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Vodafone is asking for comments, but Norton Radstock Town Council will not say anything until it receives a formal planning application.
Vodafone decided nearly 40 sites in Midsomer Norton were unsuitable before choosing the church.
The parochial church council has considered the scheme, which would see the mast disguised as a flag pole.
"The PCC is fairly neutral but we are waiting to hear public reaction," said Mr Chiplin.
"My personal view is everybody uses mobile phones and there are a large number, as far as I can tell, of mobile phone transmitters around the town.
"The advantage to the church is that we will have a rental income from it, and we have still a great deal of work to do on the church with redecoration and other renovation works, which are all costly.
"I think the PCC is in consensus and the one thing they need to be reassured about is there are no health implications."
Mr Chiplin would not disclose how much rent might be paid.
There are already phone masts at Midsomer Norton Rugby ground and Paulton Rovers Football Club.
Plans to use church towers for phone mast sites in other parts of the country have caused controversy.
Eric Richard, an actor from The Bill, said a mast on a cross near his London home was "immoral and obscene", but thousands of churches have expressed an interest.
Church officials allowed masts on towers in Yorkshire so long as they were not used to transmit pornography.
Jenny Bye, an official at Waldon Telecom, which is working for Vodafone on the Midsomer Norton plan, said the company needed the mast to improve reception for third-generation phone service in the area.
Equipment-housing and other apparatus would be sited inside the church tower, apart from a small meter cabinet that would stand at ground level, facing a wall of the tower.
The Church of England has special powers in planning law, which mean St John's has ecclesiastical exemption from listed building consent that would normally stop such plans.
Vodafone still intends to submit an application to Bath and North East Somerset Council.