DEVELOPERS of Lancashire's multi-million 'skills city' are to spend £500,000 on relocating skylarks and lapwings to a new site 35 miles away.

Finding the rare birds a new home is essential to next stage of the Enterprise Zone based next to BAE Systems Samlesbury site, once condemned by government ministers as ' the worst in the country'.

In 2012 the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, brining together councils and businesses, proposed the development aimed at boosting skills and creating 6,000 hi-tech jobs.

In 2014 government ministers Penny Mordaunt and Greg Clark told the LEP they had 'lost confidence' in the scheme, the only one of 24 in England to have attracted no new businesses or produced any new jobs.

On Thursday the Cabinet of Lancashire County Council, a key player in the LEP, will consider an update confirming leases on the land needed had been agreed with BAE Systems and the spending of £11.5 million on road and drainage works to prepare more of the site for occupation.

It highlights it now has two occupants: BAE Systems Academy for Skills and Knowledge and Wincanton's Defence Logistics centre employing 300.

The report reveals it is necessary to provide a new home for protected ground-nesting skylarks and lapwings to an alternative 80 acre site 35 miles north of Samlesbury at Carnforth run by the Royal; Society for the Protection of Birds.

Blackburn with Darwen finance boss Cllr Andy Kay said: "To read that a very important growth and skills programme does not seem to have progressed, even after a scathing letter from Tory ministers in 2014, is most disturbing.

"To find at this stage there are ground nesting birds needing to be encouraged to fly elsewhere at a cost of £500,000 is astounding.

"I cannot believe the current ministers will be happy at the continuing difficulties with the development."

Cllr Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley council's Liberal Democrat Group, said: "If this is still the original 'Skills City' envisaged in 2012, this progress is welcome even if the delay is regrettable.

"Spending £500,000 to move ground nesting birds is a lot of money and I wonder how you stop them flying back to Samlesbury. I shall be monitoring this project to ensure it is not just a watered-down version of the original."