PLANS for a controversial phone mast that will give train passengers coverage when travelling through Box Tunnel were approved last night.

The plans were submitted to North Wiltshire District Council by mobile phone giant Orange for the 12 metre high pole and two antennas.

The council had received 11 letters from people living nearby objecting to the mast, which is set be positioned on the hill over Brunel's famous tunnel.

Cllr Sylvia Doubell said the development control committee voted in favour of the application despite being reluctant to do so.

Planning officers had recommended that permission be granted for the mast providing the phone company carry out the work within three years and as long as the mast is close to trees to help mask it from view.

Cllr Doubell said after the meeting: "The committee was very reluctant to pass it, but if it had to go to appeal in the future it would incur more cost and the committee had to make a sensible decision based on this."

Orange wants the antenna as part of an initiative to give mobile phone signal coverage across the country's mainline railway network.