PLANS to turn a grazing field into a lake for anglers and nature conservation area have been rejected by councillors after Teesside Airport chiefs claimed it could put airline safety at risk.

The pasture, at Bishopton, near Darlington, was to be transformed into a lake for fishing, with a smaller ecology pond next to it, for the Association of Teesside and District Angling Clubs.

But councillors on Darlington Borough Council's planning committee refused to grant permission after airport bosses complained, saying the pond was on a flight path and the birds it might attract could put aircraft at risk.

Residents in nearby Whitton village also objected to the plans, saying it could cause flooding and there would be an impact on local traffic.

Angler John Brown, who submitted the application, told the planning meeting on Wednesday that the local population would benefit from the lake.

"For five months of the year they would have it to themselves," he said.

"In the spring it will be closed to anglers to give fish a chance to breed.

"Waterfowl do not fly above 100ft and the planes coming in are at a far higher altitude than that."

But Councillor Gordon Plummer said: "Bearing in mind that Teesside Airport is in line for expansion, we don't want any kind of danger or accident potential for air traffic."

Councillor Sheila Brown said: "I don't want to spoil the enjoyment of the anglers, but it only takes one bird to get in the way of an aircraft for there to be a disaster."

The application was refused.