PLANS to allocate the former Huncoat Colliery site for housing could be a disaster for butterflies, says an eco-campaigner.

Kerry Gormley, of the Green Party in East Lancashire, has spoken out amid a pledge by Hyndburn Council for such a designation.

She says the former colliery, which closed in February 1968, has become a haven for wildlife, and particularly butterflies.

According to a recent survey, two species classed as biodiversity priorities - the Small Heath and White-Letter Hairstreak varieties - have been spotted there.

Another 11 examples recorded there are also said to be in decline at the site, which also boasts arrays of wild orchids.

Ms Gormley said: "Although currently classed as brownfield land, Huncoat Colliery is more like a nature reserve and the local community want this valuable habitat to be given protected status not developed.

"Huncoat Colliery is one of the best places in Hyndburn to see butterflies, wildflowers and other wildlife."

She believes that allocating the land for housing would be "terrible for biodiversity"

She has called on Hyndburn Council to stage a special meeting for the housing question to be debated and locals to have their say. The old colliery, which was first opened when two shafts were sunk in 1893, closed after its reserves were exhausted.