Residents were left angry and upset when a digger appeared on council owned land, wrecking a children's BMX track and potentially disturbing active badger setts.

The land, on Fieldfare Way in Bacup, known locally as the ‘back meadows’ is being considered by Rossendale Borough Council for 71 new homes, but planning permission has yet to be granted and the application has yet to go before development control.

In June more than 82 objections were put to Rossendale Council to oppose the building of the new homes by Altham-based McDermott Homes, and a residents' association was set up in response to the proposals.

On Thursday morning, a digger appeared on the site, leaving residents in uproar at the developers' decision to plough through the land.

Rob Wells, a member of Pennine/Field Fare Resident Association said: "They've made a mess of the kids grass area at the top and down onto the BMX track just moving the vehicle across the grass.

"The application hasn't been before development control yet.

"Active badger setts have been identified on site and the local badger group has put in an objection based on the active setts and are calling for a full survey - contradicting the developer ecology survey.

"The developer moved on with a digger very close to identified setts and were digging into the BMX track."

READ >  Taxi driver attacked and robbed on M65

By Thursday afternoon the digger had left the site, but residents were still upset.

Another member of the residents group, Emily Baldinger said: "We now have churned up grassed area where children play and upset residents.

"The planning has not gone to meeting yet and I am disgusted at all of this."

A council spokesperson told the Lancashire Telegraph: "We were as unaware as the residents about this incident and had no knowledge that the digger was going up there.

"Planning permission has not been granted at that site and as far as the council are concerned the digger should not have been up there.

"Residents contacted us and we took swift action, investigated it and dealt with it.

"Officers went to the company and told them they shouldn't be taking a digger on site, and the JCB was leaving the site when we visited on Thursday.

"We've approached the company to remind them of what they are not to do; the developer shouldn't go on the land unless they've got permission."

The planning application was due to go before development control in August but was delayed.

The next meeting is Tuesday October 1, but the application has again not been listed on the forthcoming agenda.