Work is under way to create new ponds and grassland areas at what will be a huge new industrial estate.

The “ecology areas” are being created as part of the new Wingates Industrial Estate expansion.

But concerns have been raised about the loss of the natural environment and about the huge number of extra lorries set to travel down Westhoughton’s roads as part of the works.

Cllr David Wilkinson, of Westhoughton South, said: “The ecology area is something that’s required as part of the planning application and in a sense it's welcome because otherwise it would just be a straight ‘that’s it we’re building!’

“So as part of those conditions it means the developers will have to put a little bit back, but I’ve seen other industrial sites with where ecology areas have been put in place and they’ve not been very successful.”

The Bolton News: The planned ecology area shown in redThe planned ecology area shown in red (Image: Harworth Group)

He added: “When you look at the ecology area, it’s a little area tucked away, it's about as tucked away as you can get!”

Approval to develop the site west of Wingates was given approval more than three years ago and will see more than 1.1m sq ft of logistics and manufacturing space created.

After concerns raised by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the loss of greenspace the proposal was called in for a public consultation.

In December last year, the latest step of the proposal was approved to help deal with traffic.

The Bolton News: The development will create a huge new industrial area in Westhoughton The development will create a huge new industrial area in Westhoughton (Image: Newsquest)

This will be by removing approved access points from Wimberry Hill Road in favour of a single access point off the A6 off Chorley Road.

Now, the work on the ecology sites is intended to allay concerns about the loss of greenspace land.

According to developers, the Harworth Group, the new ecology area will include 10 new wildlife ponds with grassland tree planting, grassland and bat boxes.

But concerns have still been raised about the effects the work will have on the environment and on congestion on the roads.

Cllr Deirdre McGeown, of Westhoughton North and Hunger Hill, said: “The creation of the ecological area is welcome but don’t forget that it is only a small part of this massive site.

“There’s potentially more harm than good being done to local wildlife.

She added: “We are extremely worried about the impact of thousands of lorries and vehicles clogging up Westhoughton’s already congested roads.”

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But when the plans for the A6 were approved in December Hamish Robertshaw, agent for the Harworth Group, argued that the this would be better for both road users and the environment.

He said: “The proposed highway designs are designed according to the latest pedestrian and highway use.”

He added: “Overall there is a significant net gain in trees and hedgerows provided.”

Mr Robertshaw also argued that it would help turn the estate into a “premier employment site.”