A CAMPAIGN has been launched to promote Hoddlesden Moss and the wider West Pennine Moors as a tourist attraction for Darwen.

East Rural councillor Julie Slater believes the granting of ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) status to the open countryside is the ideal opportunity to get visitors, walkers and wildlife enthusiasts to the area.

The decision last month by Natural England to give the 76 square kilometres stretching from Blackburn and Darwen down to Ramsbottom the protected status followed a 25-year fight.

Now Cllr Slater believes it is time for Blackburn with Darwen Council to promote the moors, and especially Hoddlesden Moss in her ward, to bring visitors and cash to the borough.

The area is home to wildlife including badgers, merlin, curlew, snipe and lapwings as well as all sorts of rare and wonderful flora and fauna.

Cllr Slater said: “This site could be the jewel in the crown of our attraction to tourists and visitors.

“The whole moorland, but especially Hoddlesden Moss, is rich in rare species,wildlife, birds and plants as well as huge and very important peat bog.

“It could be made into a real magnet for tourists, walkers and wildlife who could then bring their custom and cash to Darwen and its businesses.

“We are now in a position where the council can protect and promote this amazing moorland and make it a real asset to not just Darwen but the whole borough and wider area.

“The former East Rural Partnership produced a book of walks some years ago which I hope to now get republished.

“This SSI status is so important for protecting the future of the Moss and the moors but a real opportunity to get people to visit and come to other attractions like Darwen Tower and Turton Tower.”

Borough regeneration boss, Cllr Phil Riley, said: “This is a tremendous achievement for campaigners and significant status for the West Pennine Moors.

“The council will be looking to promote the area including Hoddlesden Moss, as an asset to the borough. However it has only recently been granted SSSI status.”

Landowners will be encouraged to undertake ‘traditional management’ to protect the bogs, wildlife and woods.