THE Environment Agency has objected to a controversial plan for a housing and road development on the edge of Wolsingham.

The agency has already told Wear Valley District Council planners that the estate could pose a flood risk and is now looking at whether part of the land was left contaminated by the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001.

Yuill homes wants to build 106 homes on the old Sawmills site, which includes haulage contractor Peter Monkhouse's yard.

As one of the first casualties of foot-and-mouth, Mr Monkhouse lost 40 sheep. They were piled up on his land for three days until they could be burnt.

An agency spokeswoman said: "We have objected on flood risk grounds. It looks like there has not been a flood risk assessment.

"We are still considering the issue of whether or not it is contaminated land and whether we need to make any recommendations or objections."

More than 600 Wolsingham residents have already written letters of objection to the scheme, which some people fear would swamp the village and claim is too near to homes in Ward Terrace.

Yuill has already reduced the number of houses from 117 and moved some affordable homes away from the terrace.

The company would build roundabouts and a road leading to industrial estates and the Weardale Railway depot.