RESIDENTS fear nuclear waste is buried beneath land being earmarked for development.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has included 94 acres of countryside on the edge of the borough in its draft local plan as suitable for employment uses.

But residents and West Pennine Tory councillor Julie Slater fear nuclear waste was dumped on old mineshafts in the 1950s.

The green belt land between Belthorn and Guide is included in the draft local plan which runs until 2037 as ideal for business, commercial and job-creating development.

Cllr Slater, Darwen MP Jake Berry, his Hyndburn Tory colleague Sara Britcliffe want the 94 acres removed from the blueprint while the nuclear waste concerns are investigated.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s growth boss Cllr Phil Riley said preliminary investigations found no evidence of any atomic material.

Cllr Slater said: “The site is located in a Coal Authority ‘High Risk Area' and there are a number of mine shafts along the Grane Road.

“In the early 1950s residents believe a large amount of nuclear waste was dumped into the shafts along the roadside.

“There was no formal and very little informal regulation so it is unclear as to the exact location, amount and what it contains, but sources suggest up to 900 tonnes.

"It is unclear where the tunnels from these shafts are but there is a high chance they run into the proposed site and our fear is the waste could be disturbed when work begins.

“A leak could cause potentially serious consequences to human health.

“The residents insist the council must provide written confirmation they have investigated this matter fully and the site is safe before they apply to release the land from the green belt.

“We also have serious concerns with regards to road safety, particularly as development of the site would cause a large increase in traffic using the Grane Road, well-known to be dangerous.”

Cllr Riley said: “We have made preliminary investigations and cannot find any evidence to support claims of nuclear waste being in the area.

“The council will continue to look into this but the draft local plan will be out for consultation and amendment for another six months. We take residents' views very seriously.”