Any plans to create a nuclear waste dump in the Warwickshire countryside will be opposed, council chiefs promised yesterday.

The warning comes in the wake of concern by environ-mental campaigners that 12 sites previously earmarked as potential burial sites in the county are back on the table.

The locations include the Hams Hall business park where food stores Sainsbury and Birds Eye have food storage depots.

They were initially identified 16 years ago by nuclear waste management firm Nirex along with Meriden in Solihull because of their geological suitability.

But the plans were shelved due to lack of support for underground disposal of toxic radioactive waste produced by the country's 16 nuclear reactors.

This summer saw a shift in attitude, however, following a report by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoWRM) which claimed burying the material was the best solution.

The recommendations are expected to be endorsed by Ministers later this month. The Government has already given the greenlight to build a new generation of nuclear power stations. Campaigners say that will put the 13 West Midland sites back in the front line.

Councillor Martin Heatley, Warwickshire County Council's portfolio holder for the environment, said: "As far as we are concerned the burial of radioactive material in Warwickshire is a non-starter and Warwickshire County Council would fight any proposals if they did ever materialise."

Coun Heatley stressed there was currently no evidence to suggest the locations - Bearley, Bramcote, Gaydon Airfield, Hams Hall, Wroxall, Kineton, Kingsbury, Lawford Heath, Long Marston Airfield, Long Marston Depot, Wedgnock and Wellesbourne Airfield - were being looked at.

"It is true that in 1990 - 16 years ago - a report looked at the possibility at 12 sites in the county, but this was ruled out.

"At this point there is no indication a new selection process will even take place, but if it does, the selection process for sites across the whole country will start from scratch with a full public consultation."

Oxfordshire-based Nirex maintains the fact that a location featured on the original list is irrelevant.

However, the Governmentowned firm admitted geology would be a key criteria before considering any future sites.

Greenpeace activists have taken this to signal those on the original list will inevitably be revisited to assess if they are still suitable.

Warwickshire councillor Joan Lea said people in the county felt they were not being properly consulted.

"Until the last 15 to 18 months the nuclear issue has been dead," she said.

"Then all of a sudden Tony Blair is saying it is the best thing since slice bread. The importance of what is going to be done doesn't seem to be put across.

"What concerns me is the whole issue of nuclear energy and waste disposal seems to be pushed along without public debate and without people being properly informed."

Ms Lea, a county councillor for Water Orton and borough councillor for Curdworth which are both within half a mile radius of Hams Hall, added: "If we do not give people the information we are not serving anyone."

Sue Wallace, Mayoress of the Warwickshire town of Coleshill, said: "People can start scaremongering about these things. I would want more information. It will be interesting to learn more when and if a planning application comes up."