PLANS to carry out flood defence work in a town - which several residents claimed could unearth animal carcasses infected with anthrax - have been approved.

The Environment Agency plans involve widening a stretch of Turker Beck in Northallerton to protect 172 homes currently at risk of flooding.

It will create a flood water storage area near Bullamoor Road, where the beck has previously backed up around a culvert.

At Hambleton District Council’s planning meeting on Thursday (March 6 ) Peter Holmes, North Yorkshire operations manager for the Environment Agency, said they had spent £500,000 improving culverts in the town. He said the latest proposals were part of a larger flood defence scheme for Northallerton.

In December 2012, the Friarage hospital was forced to cancel some surgery as flood waters threatened the hospital and deluged surrounding homes.

Today (March 6) Northallerton town councillor Jack Dobson spoke at Hambleton council’s planning meeting, calling on councillors to reject the plans. He claimed the technical plans to alter Turker Beck were flawed and called for a third party to look at the issues.

He also claimed work could disturb animal carcasses believe to have been buried on the land roughly 80 years ago.

He told the meeting: “We believe claims there is the presence of anthrax at the site to have substance; evidenced by three generations of the farming family and local residents. The proper way to address this is to refer it to the public health inspector and find a solution that could be safely delivered.”

Planning manager Mark Harbottle told councillors it was not within the remit of the planning committee to “deal with anthrax” and said they would pass the information on to the Environment Agency to deal with accordingly.

The proposed flood defence project was approved unanimously.