INVERCLYDE Council has the power to cancel contentious planning permission for nearly 200 social homes on the toxic former Ravenscraig Hospital site — but will NOT use it.

The authority has declared it won't budge from a 5-4 vote in March to approve the proposal, despite one councillor now being opposed in light of an ongoing Telegraph investigation.

Colin Jackson has told how he would have cast his ballot against the plans — which would have seen them fall — if he'd known what has since emerged about the dangers of development.

Globally respected contamination expert Professor Andrew Watterson last month debunked a string of safety 'assurances' given by developer Link Group Ltd to the Scottish Government.

But the council says it is sticking with the decision of the Planning Board despite the risk of confirmed 'multiple exceedances' of dangerous and cancer-causing chemicals escaping.

Under planning laws the local authority has the ability to revoke the green light given to Link, which stands to receive £15m of public money for developing the site it bought for a pound.

Section 65 of the Town and County Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 states: 'If it appears to the planning authority that it is expedient to revoke or modify any permission to develop land granted on an application....the authority may by order revoke or modify the permission to such extent as they consider expedient.'

The legislation adds: 'The power conferred by this section may be exercised (a) where the permission relates to the carrying out of building or other operations, at any time before those operations have been completed.'

Link Group Ltd itself sensationally admitted last month that its 'assurances' that harmful contaminants were 'not leachable or soluble and will not migrate horizontally' were not true.

The concession came after Professor Watterson, of the University of Stirling, told the Telegraph that all three scenarios could indeed occur at the sprawling 83-acre Ravenscraig site.

The professor added: "There is no such thing as capping and containment that will last forever.

"Membranes and materials used to 'seal in' contaminants will invariably fail at some stage or be damaged and prove less effective."

He said of the Ravenscraig contamination - which includes cadmium, mercury, arsenic and lead: "As there is no safe level established for exposure of humans to any carcinogens, and some of these are also known to be linked to oestrogen disruption at very low levels, the preferred remediation policy should be to ensure no exposure.

"If this cannot be achieved and guaranteed in the long term, then there are strong arguments for not developing such sites, however low the estimates of risks to human health are."

Link insisted last month that the site poses a 'low risk'. They added that the 'existence of these potentially leachable contaminants is neither an unusual or overly concerning situation'.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: "The council is not going to consider revoking planning permission.

"As previously stated the process that was gone through, in terms of addressing the concerns about contamination, is typical of sites throughout Scotland where there is a potential issue.

"The council's head of environmental and public protection was consulted on the application.

"It was concluded that conditions should be attached to the planning permission to address any current or future concerns."

The spokesman added: "The conditions are very clear in terms of what is expected and it is now up to the applicant to address these and satisfy the council that they have done so.

"There are national codes of practice for environmental investigations, risk assessments, remediation and verification schemes.

"The developer's proposals must comply with these codes of practice.

"No homes may be occupied until these documents have been produced and complied with and the remediation work has been completed."