RED Tape is preventing a blanket ban on mobile phone masts near homes in St Albans.

The district council is drawing up guidelines to control the locations of new masts - often feared for alleged health risks and disliked as eyesores.

Spokeswoman Davina Mansell said: "The guidelines, based on the ones adopted by Milton Keynes, would specify that any such equipment should be at least 50 metres away from residential properties.

"At the last cabinet meeting when this was discussed, it was clear that residents would like this policy to be adopted locally.

"However, because Milton Keynes is a unitary authority and St Albans City and District Council is not, we have to work with the county council and Hertfordshire Highways.

"The county Council has agreed to give favourable consideration to any protocol put forward by all ten district / borough councils in Hertfordshire."

Chris Brazier, the relevant cabinet member, will meet representatives from the other 11 councils in November in a bid to agree a common approach.