OXFORDSHIRE County Council is making almost £200,000 a year renting out schools and fire stations as locations for mobile phone masts.

Figures obtained by the Oxford Mail reveal phone companies have installed equipment across the county to extend their coverage.

Oxford City Council also makes £42,750 a year renting out space on four of the city’s five tower blocks – Windrush, Plowman, Hockmore and Foresters.

Last night, a campaigner against phone masts urged the council to rethink its policy.

Mick Haines, of Croft Road, Marston, Oxford, said the dangers of placing phone masts near schools had never been disproved.

Kidlington Fire Station is home to Vodaphone, T-Mobile and O2 masts and earns the council £19,680.

Matthew Arnold School in Arnolds Way, Oxford, is leased to Orange, O2 and T-Mobile and brings in £17,500.

Overall, the county council makes £193,500 a year.

Mr Haines has protested against masts for the past decade and collected more than 3,000 signatures on three different petitions.

He said: “I don’t like the sound of these figures – phone masts should be nowhere near residential areas.

“The dangers of phone masts have never been proved but, more importantly, they have never been disproved. We just don’t know.

“Fifty years ago we were all smoking 20 cigarettes a day and lining our homes and businesses with asbestos. It’s only now we are aware of the dangers.”

Mr Haines said the council should find other places to put them. He said: “I appreciate they bring in money, but the negatives certainly outweigh the positives. These masts should be moved away from built-up areas. That way we can be absolutely sure nobody is going to be hurt. We just can’t take the risk.”

Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Any installation of this nature has to meet international regulations on radiation emissions. All the money generated from these contracts is directed into council services and in the case of schools, the funds go directly into the school budget.”

O2 spokesman Jim Stevenson said there was “no evidence” that phone masts were harmful.

He said: “In the past year we have undertaken a massive amount of scientific research in all areas relating to this, and in every case it has produced a firm reassurance that there is no risk from phone masts of mobile phones.

“There is no harm at all in relation to people’s health and safety, or indeed that of their children.

“We continually monitor the effects of phone masts and will, of course, continue to do so.”