• Wednesday, May 18, 2022

News

Issa brothers eyeing controversial site at Blackburn

Zuber and Mohsin Issa, the founders of EG Group.

By: Bill Jacobs

BLACKBURN’S millionaire Issa brothers are considering developing a controversial piece of land where campaigners fear nuclear waste may be buried.

The Monte Blackburn Ltd property subsidiary has taken a legal option on part of a 94-acre countryside site on the edge of Blackburn, near the M65’s Junction 5.

Campaigners believe radioactive waste was dumped down old mineshafts on the land between Belthorn and Guide in the 1950s.

Despite their fears, Blackburn with Darwen Council included the green belt site between Belthorn and Guide in its draft local plan as ideal for commercial and job-creating development.

Now Monte, owned by EG Group founders Mohsin and Zuber Issa, has secured a legal interest in the land.

The firm, which is developing Frontier Park near the M65’s Junction 6 and Titanium Park in Burnley Bridge, has started the planning process by requesting a screening opinion on whether land requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The council’s regeneration boss, councillor Phil Riley, who claims any buried radioactive material is at least a kilometre away from the site, said Monte’s interest was a ‘vote of confidence’ in the inclusion of the land in the borough’s draft local plan.

But campaign leader and West Pennine ward Tory councillor Julie Slater vowed to fight any move to develop the land.

A Monte spokesman said: “We are pleased to be supporting the proposed allocation of this land in Blackburn’s emerging local plan.

“We have secured a legal interest in this fantastic site, developed a masterplan and requested a screening opinion to confirm whether the proposed development will require an EIA.

“Following the oversubscription of our units at Frontier Park and a consequent shortage of similar units in both the borough and county, there is a tremendous latent demand for new high quality employment units.

“The land is located in a prime and sustainable location on the edge of Blackburn’s urban area and adjacent to the M65, making it ideal for businesses, transport links and connections as well as being easily accessible for the local workforce.

“The project is currently in its infancy and the outline planning application is not expected to be submitted until later this year. We are excited and optimistic for the prospects for this project.”

Riley said: “Obviously there is a long way to go with the process of the local plan which is currently in its latest phase of public consultation. This is a vote of confidence in the council’s decision to bring this land forward for consultation.”

Slater said: “My fears about the suitability of this land for employment use remain.

“I am not convinced by councillor Riley’s assurances that there is no radioactive waste underneath this site”

“I and local residents will object to the development of this land both at the final local plan consultation stage and if any planning application comes forward.”

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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