A GROUP of angry residents launched a protest and stopped work to erect a mobile phone mast in Caerleon this morning.

Residents were shocked to discover that mobile phone company O2 had permission to erect a mast on Lodge Road.

Despite planning permission being refused last year by Newport council planners, the company exploited a planning loophole after the council failed to notify them of a technicality in the process.

Around ten residents, including children, set up tables and chairs at the site of the planned mast at 8am this morning and stopped contractors from working.

Furious resident Adrian Lumbard will have the 12-metre tall mast built opposite his house.

He said: "We have gone through the process of protesting about something, hoping the council would do their part, and they have failed us."

Gail Hookham, 53, said: "We will stay out here as long as it takes to get it stopped. There is no way we are going to let it be built."

Police arrived at the scene at around 10.45am to speak to the protestors.

Sergeant David Morgan of Alway police told them O2 had planning permission, and said he would take advice from the duty inspector before taking further action.

In a letter to a resident, Newport council's planning department explained what had happened.

They said the O2 application needed "prior approval" from the council for the siting, design and appearance of the mast, and had to be determined by law within 56 days.

Although councillors on the planning committee turned the plans down on June 28 last year, the council failed to tell O2 that prior approval was needed in the first place.

Both aspects are needed by law within 56 days for a legally valid decision, and as O2 weren't notified they had planning consent by default.

Newport council said it had since taken steps to close the loophole and make sure the same situation does not arise in future.

An O2 spokeswoman said the company had abided by planning laws.