RURAL East Lancashire will be eaten up by urban sprawl by the end of the century, says a countryside charity.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England claims that by 2100 land free from major disturbance such as towns or roads will become part of the concrete jungle.

And the chair of an East Lancashire council planning committee has said the CPRE's prediction could come true due to the erosion of greenbelt land.

David Clarke, chairman of Lancashire CPRE, said that nationally 320 square miles of countryside was being eaten by urban intrusion every year.

The CPRE has compiled maps showing that in 2007 50 per cent of England was disturbed by the sight and sound of roads, urban areas and infrastructure, compared to 41 per cent in the early 1990s and 26 per cent in the early 1960s.

If these figures prove correct, the remaining 50 per cent of the undisturbed countryside could be blighted in just 80 years, according to the CPRE.

Mr Clarke said the picture for certain parts of Lancashire was bleak.

He said: "The whole of the mid lancashire belt is under threat starting with Preston and going through Blackburn, Burnley and up to Nelson and Colne.

"Development is needed to regenerate these towns and we support that but we don't want to see urban sprawl spreading out in to the countryside around those towns.

"There is also a problem in East Lancashire because the Lake District to the north and Yorkshire Dales to the east are national parks, so it could fall to the Pennines to be home for wind turbines and alike.

"Areas like Hyndburn and Oswaldtwistle moors could become industrial land-scapes if that happens."

Mr Clarke said the planning system was strong enough to prevent this change but if the Government brought in a new fast track scheme then he believed urban sprawl could progress unopposed.

Coun Jean Rigby, chair of Blackburn with Darwen planning committee, said: "I'm very worried about the erosion of greenbelt land. We need to protect it.

"I think there is some exaggeration in what has been predicted, but to be honest if the government has its way we probably will end up in that state.

"We have a lot of empty properties that need to be filled before we use green-belt land."