THE site where a new cycle track is likely to be based is contaminated with materials including asbestos — but council chiefs have pledged it will be cleaned up.

Residents in Kearsley have expressed concerns after it emerged that the land at Singing Clough may still be contaminated by materials left on it when it was a landfill site many years ago.

Town hall chiefs said they are aware of the issues and said all appropriate cleansing work will be carried out if the area is to be developed.

The Bolton News revealed earlier this month that Singing Clough is the council’s preferred choice for the controversial cycle track — after plans to build it in Leverhulme Park were shelved following a public outcry.

But locals are concerned and have referenced historic reports which found that harmful levels of materials including asbestos, arsenic, lead and zinc were present on the land.

An environmental investigation was carried out on the land in 1998 on behalf of developer Morbaine Ltd — which wanted to build industrial units and offices on the land.

It found that the ground materials were ‘extensively contaminated’ with a ‘range of toxic and phytoxic contaminants including asbestos’.

The study also found there to be concerning levels of arsenic, copper, lead and zinc on the site.

A battle ensued between the developer and Bolton Council over who would pay for the clean-up costs and the developer eventually backed out.

Doreen Smith, aged 77, lived near to the site for many years, before more recently moving away and is worried about the effect building on the land might have.

She said: “When I saw that Singing Clough could be where the cycle track might be, I was very worried.

“Everyone who has been in Kearsley for some time will know the problems with that land. It is full of chemicals and poison and you can see that in the reports. I think the only safe thing to do is to leave it well alone.”

But Bolton Council’s cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Nick Peel moved to allay fears and said the land would be properly cleaned up before it is developed.

He said: “There are other sites being considered, but if we went ahead with the plan at Singing Clough we would bring in a contamination expert company to clear the site.

“This wold actually be a win-win because not only would we be bringing in new sporting facilities for the people of Kearsley but we would bring a disused and contaminated site back into use.”

He added: “It is not uncommon for developments to be built on formerly contaminated land.”