SUSPECTED subsidence caused by the severe floods in Lancashire and Calderdale has led to fears for the integrity of the main road between Burnley and Todmorden.

Part of the A646, near the county border, has been cordoned off amid worries that the excess water has damaged the structure of the Cliviger to Cornholme stretch of the route.

Currently barriers and temporary lights have been installed at key points in the road and drivers are being asked to recognise there could be delays to their journeys, and only travel if necessary.

Road engineers are set to assess the full extent of the damage, caused by the huge accumulation of water which has been running down hillsides through the Cliviger Gorge and Upper Calder Valley, early in the New Year.

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: "There is concern about potential subsidence on part of the road due to saturated ground, and barriers are in place for safety.

"Temporary traffic lights are in place at this location to allow traffic to travel in both directions as the road is down to one lane.

"The lights are expected to remain in place for at least the coming days, and a full assessment of the road will be carried out early in the New Year."

It is not the first time that subsidence problems have struck the area, with a retaining wall collapsing beside the main Burnley to Todmorden railway line in Cornholme last year.

A Calderdale Council spokesman said: "We are aware of major highways issues at sites such as the A646 in the Upper Calder Valley, and we continue to inspect all built structures to check that they are safe and undamaged.

"We urge people to only make essential journeys around the affected areas to allow the clean up to continue and to keep roads clear for emergency services and recovery vehicles."

Council staff had already established a floods centre at Todmorden Town Hall, the town has suffered repeated flooding since a major deluge in 2000 and was recently the subject of a multi-million pound engineering project by the Environment Agency to bolsters the River Calder defences.

Hundreds of sandbags have been issued to areas thought to be susceptible to flooding from Cornholme to Todmorden and Walsden, where the railway station was submerged last weekend.