AMBITIOUS plans for a new outdoor adventure centre in East Lancashire – at Devil’s Elbow – look set to find favour with planners.
Last-minute concerns over bats and birds have failed to derail proposals by Ribble Valley Leisure Ltd for land off Whalley Road at Read.
Barefoot trails, two segway courses, a treetop aerial adventure course and educational pathways are envisaged for the centre.
Experts from Natural England have confirmed they are happy that measures have been taken to prevent any undue harm to local bat, great crested newt and otter communities.
But the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is unhappy that grey herons, a tree nesting bird, will have one of their habitats disrupted.
The RSPB had called for a 250-metre buffer zone, between the development and nesting herons, instead of the 30-metre allowance given.
The proposals have also divided villagers – with 17 sending letters of objection but a further 13 coming out in support of the project. Protesters are anxious about increased traffic and highway congestion on the A671 and on the impact on the biological heritage site there.
But backers believe the scheme, which is promising to create five jobs, will attract visitors to the valley and East Lancs. Planning officer Graeme Thorpe, in a report to the planningcommittee, has recommended approval for the project.
He said: “Having considered the potentially lucrative attraction the scheme may add to the Ribble Valley from a tourist and visitor point of view, and the potential employment benefits of the development, the council consider that these positive points would outweigh the likely harm.”
The scheme will be discussed at tonight’s Ribble Valley planning committee.