OFFICIALS say traces of cyanide found on the site of a new elderly care home pose no danger to the public.
Tests showed the deadly poison was present in a field on the outskirts of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, where a 53-apartment extra care scheme will be built.
Experts say the field off Harmby Road has not previously been built on and it is not known where the cyanide came from.
The complex is being developed by Broadacres Housing Association in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council and Richmondshire District Council.
The scheme is at the centre of a local dispute about provision for elderly care in the area.
A campaign group, Friends of Brentwood Lodge, has been launched to fight for the existing elderly care home in Leyburn to remain open when the new complex is built.
But officials say the only way the new facility can be built is if the old home closes.
Andy Brook, chair of the group, said: “The discovery of cyanide is a very interesting development.
“Nobody really knows what this land was used for in the past. This discovery highlights the fact that this application was fudged through.”
He added: “This shows there is all the more need for a review of elderly acre in Richmondshire.
“Elderly care in Wensleydale is in crisis and this could take quite a while to get the bottom of.”
Leyburn district councillor Fleur Butler says the new extra care scheme will transform eledrly care provision in the town.
She added: “With the increase in dementia beds from 16 to 20 that this scheme will bring, Leyburn desperately needs the facility and I hope the cyanide issue can be resolved quickly.”
The cyanide was found after an geotechnical survey of the site involving the digging of boreholes and pits.
A report to planners said: “No particularly unusual ground conditions, ground water levels or contamination levels were found apart from a concentration of cyanide in one particular borehole.”
A spokesman for Broadacres said: “We can confirm that a small amount of cyanide was found at the site.
“There's absolutely no risk to the public and it will be removed as part of the site remediation work.”