PLANS to build a 2,000 home 'garden village' threaten a valuable butterfly haven, an environmental activist has warned.

Kerry Gormley, a former Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Hyndburn, fears the scheme in Huncoat would damage ' very special, unique and cherished wildlife habitat' in its former colliery.

She fears that doubling the size of the village would cause traffic problems and threaten the survival of its allotments.

Huncoat resident Ms Gormley has written to Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson expressing concerns about the scheme and on November 30 will launch a campaign to protect the colliery site and its 21 different butterflies.

Already more than 200 people have signed an online petition to save the habitat for future generations.

Ms Gormley tells Cllr Parkinson: "My primary concern is the threat this plan poses to a very special, unique and cherished wildlife habitat - Huncoat’s former colliery.

"This site is one of the best places in Hyndburn to see butterflies, wildflowers and other wildlife. Since the colliery stopped operating in the 1960s, the land has been reclaimed by nature and is now a haven for wildlife. Although classed as brownfield land, Huncoat Colliery is more like a nature reserve.

"Twenty-one butterfly species are present, 13 of which are in decline including two species classed as a priority in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (Small Heath and White-letter Hairstreak).

" Butterflies are attracted to Huncoat Colliery by large areas of wildflowers, including stunning patches of wild orchids.

"It gives local people easy access to nature."

Cllr Parkinson said, “It is the council’s ambition for Huncoat to become a true locally-led garden community with the creation of up to 2,000 locally distinctive new homes.

"We want to avoid Huncoat becoming an out-of-town stereotypical housing development, but instead create a place where people choose to live adopting the principles of garden communities.

“This is just the start of the journey. There are many things to address. Transport and natural habitat and wildlife will be given very careful consideration as the plan is developed."