DEMOLITION work at a Moorlands industrial site has sparked a contamination scare.
Council planning chiefs are investigating work carried out on land near the Thomas Bolton copper works, in Froghall, and have served an enforcement notice on the site's owner amid fears that the recent removal of a silage tank, carried out without the relevant planning permission, could have contaminated the ground and nearby Cauldon canal.
The land - which lies in the picturesque Churnet Valley and was formerly used by Thomas Bolton, which has since reduced the size of its operation - was the centre of a massive planning row in 2004 over proposals to build 200 new homes, a nursing home and a hotel.
Residents reacted with outrage at the time, claiming the developments would ruin the scenic surroundings.
Environmental health teams from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council have visited land at the side of the canal to check if there is any risk of contamination from the tank.
Your Leek Paper understands the land owner, Stirling Investments, informed the district council's building control team of the work, but not the planning department.
A council spokesman said: "We were aware of this on Monday and enforcement officers visited the site yesterday as a matter of urgency.
"We have a building control demolition notice, but there are planning procedures to follow as well."
Community leaders have been quick to condemn the demolition work.
Ipstones councillor Linda Malyon said: "They (contractors) have knocked down the silage tank next to the canal.
"People are worried that it could be toxic. If it rains, it could run into the canal and that's obviously very dangerous."
Mike Worthington, who sits on the planning applications committee, said: "Any work has to go through the correct planning process and I hope no damage has been done."
Moorlands MP Charlotte Atkins, said: "There could be lots of small businesses in Froghall, a heritage centre and a small number of houses, as long as they were sympathetic.
"The area is one of the most picturesque in the Staffordshire Moorlands and should be protected."