PROPOSALS for an £11million industrial estate could be halted because of conservation fears over ground-nesting birds including skylarks, lapwings and the protected reed bunting.

Barnfield Investment Properties have applied for planning permission to Burnley Council to build 35 units on land off Rossendale Road on the outskirts of the town as the first phase of its Advance Point scheme.

The nine-acre site - opposite the award-winning Usha restaurant - is open farmland, formerly used for grazing, earmarked for job-creating development.

The application will now be considered by councillors on Burnley Council’s Development Control Committee on Thursday night after objections from The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, The Burnley Wildlife Conservation Forum and four neighbours.

Barnfield wants to build 35 speculative light industrial units ranging in size from 200square metres to 600sq m, with the creation of a new access from Rossendale Road as the first phase of the project with a second stage to follow.

The two wildlife conservation groups express fears that the development of the grass and scrubland would harm the habitat of ground nesting bids and council ecological experts have confirmed that among them is the protected reed bunting which breeds there.

The Burnley Wildlife Conservation Forum told planners: “ Because the land’s pasture is used for low intensity grazing by sheep or cattle it is in good condition for upland bird species and in particular is an important foraging and breeding site resource for them, especially for skylark and lapwing.”

The neighbours objected on grounds including the over-concentration of industrial estates in a small area, increased traffic on already busy roads, the loss of green belt land and green space and drainage.

Local Coal Clough and Deerplay ward’s Cllr Gordon Birtwistle said: “My first impression is that this is a totally unsuitable place to build an industrial estate on the side of a hill in an area which floods off a busy four-lane road.

“As a member of the committee I shall listen carefully to the planning officers.”

Tim Webber, Barnfield’s managing director, has said: “Situated between junctions 9 and 10 of the M65, this site offers strong connectivity for business and significant opportunity to relocate or expand in a modern and well-thought through development.”

A report from planning officers recommends that permission is granted subject to 26 conditions