At least 570 of the Lancashire’s 617 schools contain Asbestos the bulk of them in Preston, Chorley and South Ribble, according to data released following a Freedom of Information request.

The National Union of Teachers has been running a major campaign for more than a year to try to tackle the problem in the county and today national and county Health and Safety officer Ian Watkinson branded the figures a scandal on a local and national scale. There are 50 in Chorley, 40 in South Ribble, 52 in West Lancs and 22 in the Ribble Valley The county abides by national policy which means leaving Asbestos in situ unless it becomes a problem.

Between September 2010 and February 2011 the county council paid out £421,322 in compensation and £63,500 in legal costs latest available figures, up to November 2013, show that five other claims are still outgoing.

However, when Asbestos is disturbed or deteriorates it becomes extremely unsafe and inhaling the dust and fibres can lead to serious illness decades later County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “As in all other councils around the country, most of Lancashire’s older schools contain some Asbestos.

“Where it occurs, it is inspected regularly and does not represent any threat to staff, children or young people.“As long as it is in good condition, well-sealed and not disturbed then it is far safer to leave it well alone.