A major beauty spot in Lancashire will now be forever safeguarded against developers by a special decree issued by a central Government arm.
More than 7,600 hectares of the West Pennine Moors have been rubber stamped as an area of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England. It means that the designated area, which covers moors in Withnell, Wheelton, Anglezark and Rivington, is protected by law to conserve its wildlife and geology.
Lancashire County councillor Kim Snape, who represents Chorley Rural East, said she was “thrilled” that “Lancashire’s version of the Lake District” was now identified as a conservation area.
“This a fantastic result for our area and much deserved recognition of the unique and special nature of the West Pennine Moors,” said Kim, who led the campaign to protect the land alongside Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle. “We are truly lucky to have this on our doorstep.”
The edict comes after a lengthy campaign to ensure the protection of the West Pennine Moors from development and industrial encroachment.
Mr Hoyle said: “There is no doubt about it, the West Pennine Moors are beautiful, they’re part and parcel of the Chorley landscape. From the highland at Rivington Pike with the reservoirs all the way through to Brindle and Houghton, they’re breath-taking. That is why we began this campaign along with local councillors to ensure that projects such as the Voltex Farm development could not go ahead. The scheme would have placed miles upon miles of solar panels right along the moorland, destroying the view but most importantly the finely balanced ecosystem. I am delighted that The West Pennine Moors SSSI is now protected in perpetuity.”
Natural England holds the power to identify land UK residents own or occupy as a SSSI.