Lawyers for the Long Marston anti eco-town protesters say the Government's plans for 6,000 new homes could be breaking planning guidelines.

They have submitted a Freedom of Information request for details about eco-town plans, saying villagers have been left in the dark by the Government and developers.

On May 1 lawyers from SJ Berwin on behalf of the Better Access Responsible Development (Bard) Campaign, which represents residents in the Warwickshire village threatened by the development sent a request to the Department of Communities and Local Government asking for information.

This includes documents giving assessments of the impact on landscape, heritage, air quality and noise levels, as well as flood risk documents and details of the impact on the local economy. They also demanded an extra three months onto the consultation deadline of June 30, so locals have can go through the plan.

They say if this is not done, consultation will not have been held properly, which case law says is vital for any development.

Simon Ricketts, head of planning at SJ Berwin said: "The Government's reforms of the planning system have been aimed at ensuring more consultation, community involvement and a new system of regional and local plan making based on a robust evidence base and test of "soundness".

"But the eco-towns competition cuts across every element. Ten sites are going to 'win' the competition, their prize being to be named in a national policy statement. Regional and local plans will then need to be reviewed to include them.

"The Government is calling for 'preliminary views', on the basis of very little information and nothing by way of evidence. By the time the sites are in the policy statement it will be too late for consultation."

The majority of residents in the small village of Long Marston are thought to be fervently against building an eco-town on disused MOD land nearby.

The Government says the eco-towns, ten of which are planned for a shortlist of 15 sites across England, are vital to provide affordable housing.

But critics say the rural Long Marston site would not have the infrastructure to support such a huge site - the equivalent of building nearby Stratford-upon-Avon over again.

They also say there is no real demand for affordable housing in the area, meaning the population of the new town would have to be brought in from elsewhere in the country.

A nd they have accused the Government of political opportunism, pointing out that the majority of the potential sites are located in solidly Conservative-voting areas.

Last week Stratford District Council, which will see its population go up by around 25 per cent if the eco-town is built, unanimously rejected the eco-town, saying it would be unsustainable and would ruin the surroundings in what is an attractive rural area.

A spokeswoman for the Bard Campaign said people living in the area felt left out by the Government's attitude.

She added: "We care deeply about our environment and we know that building a new town on this site is neither ecologically friendly nor sustainable. We just wish the government would listen and learn from people who really know and love the area."