A TAPE measure was used to find out the exact height of a controversial mobile phone mast - after hi-tech laser devices failed to agree.

Campaigners fighting a mobile phone mast at Sheriff Hutton claimed it could have been more than 15 metres high and, therefore, in breach of planning rules.

Engineers from North Yorkshire County Council and Ryedale District Council were called in to find out. However, using laser measuring gadgets, they came up with wildly different readings, with one report putting the mast at more than 16 metres.

In an effort to get a definitive measurement, they resorted to an old-fashioned tape measure, hung from a "cherry picker".

Gary Housden, planning chief at Ryedale District Council, said: "Up to and including a 15-metre mast, there is the potential for permitted development and phone companies proceed on that basis.

"Although the application applied for was a 15-metre mast, we have had various measurements with various different devices.

"None of them have given us a consistent reading. Last week they still couldn't agree, because most devices have a margin of error of about 10cm either way. We agreed to drop a measuring tape down from a cherry picker' to get a definitive reading."

Leading protester Linda Murphy said: "Last week Ryedale District Council came round and measured it with a gizmo, but apparently they got a different reading every time.

"Today they have hired a cherry-picker to measure it with a tape measure. We suspect it might be just over 15 metres and, if it is, it shouldn't be there at all."

However, the tape measure proved that the mast itself was exactly 14.84m high, with an extra 7cm of antenna above that - well within the acceptable limits. Ryedale District Council's previous readings had suggested the mast was indeed 14.9m high.

The matter will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on Thursday.