DRIVERS are being warned to expect severe delays while a stretch of the St Helens Linkway remains closed following a spillage of vegetable oil from a lorry yesterday evening.

The road is closed St Helens-bound from junction seven of the M62 J7, at Rainhill Stoops, to Elton Head Road, near Sherdley Park.

The major route has been closed since Wednesday evening and is not expected to re-open until at least this afternoon, according to traffic bulletins.

There are long delays on all approaches to the Rainhill Stoops roundabout and diversions are in place via the A57 Warrington Road, Rainhill Road and Elton Head Road.

It is believed the cooking oil was spilled from a lorry that was carrying palletts at about 4.45pm last night.

Fears the oil would create dangerous driving conditions led to the closure.

A St Helens Council statement read: "Drivers using the northbound carriageway of the St Helens Linkway near the M62 junction 7 are being warned to expect severe delays for most of the day (Thursday 19 July).

"The road is closed while clean up work takes place following a vegetable oil spillage yesterday afternoon.

"A diversion is being signposted through Rainhill via Warrington Road, Rainhill Road and Eltonhead Road back to the Linkway. The southbound carriageway is open as normal.

"St Helens Council has adjusted the traffic lights to try and improve the flow around the Rainhill Stoops junction of the M62.

"Extensive clean up work is required but it is hoped that this will be completed later today (Thursday)."