More than 500 people marched through Skelmersdale to oppose plans to expand the Whitemoss hazardous waste disposal site.
The crowd made their way from the town’s library to the controversial landfill site before campaigners hosted a family fun day at the Liverpool Road football pitches to raise funds for the protest.
Protesters, including many families and young children, passed through Yewdale, New Church Farm, Church Road and the High Street to Whitemoss Landfill, before making their way to the fun day.
The scheme to extend the site could mean it increased to four times its present size and residents are concerned that 150,000 tonnes of waste will be buried there annually for the next 22 years.
A total of 3,300 people registered their objections with the planning inspectorate during the consultation on the plans which are due to be discussed in Wigan later this month.
The existing site deals with a variety of industrial waste including contaminated soils from redevelopment of brownfield sites and other wastes such as asbestos and ash from incineration.
Campaigners claim that the plans will increase health risks for those living nearby, despite assurances from Whitemoss Environmental Solutions that the site was safe and the expansion would “create as well as safeguard much needed jobs in the area”.
Janet Williams, who helped coordinate the protest, said: “The landfill has been there for a number of years on a small scale, but the planned extension will see it grow by about a quarter of the size of Skelmersdale and take in waste from the whole of the UK.
“We are absolutely thrilled to bits by the turnout and the Skelmersdale community is amazing for getting behind us.
“At the end of the day this is about the children of Skelmersdale and their future. If this goes ahead their future is in jeopardy.
“We want this town to be a better place not worse.”
Protester Ian Lamaire, who dressed for the march in a protective chemical suit, said that he did not believe Whitemoss Environmental Solutions’ assurances.
He said: “I’ve always been an environmentalist, like a lot of people here, and I’m determined to fight this.
“Apart from it being close to residents, it will also affect the water supply and the air quality, and the health issues facing everyone are the main reason we are all here.”
Preliminary meetings to discuss the plans are due to take place in Wigan at 11am on May 21, with shuttle buses provided for Skelmersdale residents.
Anyone wishing to attend this meeting must send their confirmation to the Planning Inspectorate by no later than May 9.
Anyone who wishes to speak at the hearings or submit a written representation must inform the Planning Inspectorate by June 26.
The formal hearings will then take place on July 16 and 17, with both daytime and evening sessions.