CONTROVERSIAL plans to site a 35-metre mobile phone mast in an ‘unspoilt’ part of the Lake District have been thrown out.

Hutchison 3G, better known as the telecommunications provider Three, wanted to place the mobile phone tower at Cat Crag in the Ennerdale Valley.

But the Lake District National Park Authority refused the application, saying the ‘highest level of protection’ is given to the ‘spectacular landscape’ of the National Park.

A decision notice published by the authority, which is responsible for planning matters across the Lake District National Park, said: “The site is in an area of exceptionally high landscape value given its location in the Lake District National Park and English Lake District World Heritage Site.

“The development would adversely impact on the character of the extraordinary beauty of the English Lake District World Heritage Site and result in harm to a designated heritage asset.

“The public benefits of the proposal including the provision of improved mobile coverage do not outweigh the identified harm.”

Those opposed to the scheme have welcomed the decision made by the Lake District National Park Authority.

One resident said: “I was delighted to see that the LDNPA reached the correct decision and refused the planning application by Hutchison 3G for a telecommunications mast at Cat Crag.

“Credit should also go to the many members of the public who submitted objections to the application and to the Ennerdale & Kinniside Parish Council and Friends of the Lake District who also submitted statements opposing the proposal.”

Locals had feared the plans were “the beginning of the commercialisation of the Ennerdale valley” – after parking charges were introduced at Bowness Knott car park in Ennerdale by Forestry England last year.

The phone mast would have been placed less than two miles from Bowness Knott car park within the Ennerdale forest which is owned by the Forestry Commission – the parent company of Forestry England.

Three now has up to six months to appeal to the Secretary of State against the decision.

A Three UK spokesperson said: “This site is part of our work on the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme which will enhance coverage and provide greater choice for the residents and businesses of Ennerdale and Kinniside.

"We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and our planners determined that this site was required to deliver it.

“We will consider the reasons for refusal carefully and consider our options.”