AN ONLINE campaign has been launched to muster further support in the battle against plans to install phone masts on a church in East Finchley.

A Facebook page, a forum and an e-petition have been set up by the East Finchley Village Residents Association (EFVRA) to highlight the level of opposition to the proposals by Holy Trinity Church, in Church Road, to place phone masts on the spire.

The decision as to whether the four antennae are installed is currently pending while the chancellor of the Diocese of London looks at the submitted documents from all parties.

But EFVRA members are readying themselves to fight any decision that would see the masts erected.

Bob Owens, chairman of EFVRA, said they have gathered 300 signatures against the plans to show the community's opposition.

“Until we know the result or whether there is going to be a hearing on it, we will keep up the pressure,” he said.

“I think we are certainly up for the next challenge whenever that may be.”

An original application in 2006 by telecomunications company QS4 to install the radio antennae within the bell tower was rejected by a Barnet Council planning committee, but that decision was overturned by a Government inspector on appeal.

The development was permitted on the condition it began within three years and final plans for the appearance were submitted to the council. That permission runs out this November, after which the company will have to reapply.

If they are installed, it is thought each mast could be worth £10,000 per year to the church.

Campaigners were told arguments around health issues would not be listened to in relation to the phone masts. Mr Owens said the opposition has since focused on three main aspects, those being the impact on the aesthetics of the building, the fact it goes against the mission of the church considering the level of public opposition, and claims the church has failed to consult properly with residents.

“I think they feel they just need the money,” said Mr Owens.

“It is quite a small and feeble congregation and I can't imagine they are raising enough to cover expenses.

“There is no particular reason of the phone masts in the community around here and I think the church would be doing it for the wrong reasons.”

Helen Davison, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of London, said the documents have gone through the church building advisor committee and are now being considered by the chancellor.

She said there is no time limit on the decision process, but said the impact on the appearance of the church and the overall mission in the parish would be looked at. There would also be a assessments made to create a statement of significance and a statement of need.

She said: “The considerations are for the good of the parish and the building in the diocese.

“It is not a cut and dry decision and it takes a lot of things into account.”

The EFVRA Facebook page can be found by clicking here or by searching groups on the social networking website.