A CONTROVERSIAL development site which residents and politicians fear is above buried nuclear waste has been kept in the latest version of a borough's planning blueprint.

Blackburn with Darwen Council included the 94 acres of countryside near the M65's Junction 5 in its draft local plan published last year as suitable for employment uses.

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

Now following a consultation a new version of the blueprint has been published and the the green belt land between Belthorn and Guide remains earmarked as ideal for commercial and job-creating development.

But Cllr Slater and Darwen MP Jake Berry are determined the 94 acres should be removed from the final version of the plan which proposes 7,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs by 2037.

A report submitted to the council's executive board on Thursday next week says: "The review of existing employment land illustrated that the required employment land allocations cannot all be accommodated within the urban area.

"Therefore a review has taken place and the local plan proposes to amend the Green Belt boundary to create a new strategic employment site close to the M65.

"Concerns were raised during the consultation around the impacts of development of this strategic employment site of buried nuclear waste that was deposited down nearby mineshafts in the 1950s.

"These claims have been thoroughly investigated.

"No significant risks are identified to warrant removal of the site as an allocation in the new local plan."

Cllr Slater said: "This is a load of rubbish.

"Some of the older residents remember wagons with men in white suits tipping material down mineshafts.

"The council should not be considering building on land with potential nuclear contamination. The risk is just too great."

Mr Berry said: "My views on the development of this site have not changed - the council should not be removing it from the Green Belt.

"There are plenty of other brownfield sites across the borough that could be used instead of this section of countryside near Belthorn and Guide."

Cllr Riley said: "These are serious concerns. As you would expect we have investigated them with the utmost diligence.

"There is no evidence of nuclear waste being buried under the site therefore we have kept it in the latest version of the plan as employment land.

"This site is needed as we are running short of land for industrial and job creation purposes to support the continued growth of the borough."

If the executive board approves the plan, there will be a further six-week consultation period before a final version is be submitted for examination by the government in the summer of 2022 for adoption in 2023.