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East Lancashire countryside is set to be given special protection
MOORLAND across East Lancashire could be given special protection under proposals being considered by conservation watchdog Natural England.
Plans are being drawn up to make the West Pennine Moors, home to some of the north-west's most stunning scenery, into a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The protected status could eventually cover a 90 square mile area from the edge of Blackburn, Darwen, Oswaldtwistle and Haslingden, across to Chorley and down to Ramsbotton, Stubbins and Belmont.
If it covered the entire moors it would take in the likes of Darwen Moor, Winter Hill, Rivington Pike, Angelzarke and surrounding reservoirs, Haslingden's moorland, and encompass whole villages such as Tockholes, Hoddlesden, Belthorn, Edgworth, Turton, Belmont, Brinscall and Withnell.
Alice Kimpton, a lead adviser for Natural England in the north west, said in a presentation to county councillors that the organisation had been asked to look at a SSSI designation by the West Pennine Moors Management Committee and Lancashire MPs.
She said: “The West Pennine Moors is an area rich in wildlife and important habitats and has an excellent carbon storage capacity."
Currently a survey is being undertaken to determine the exact boundaries which should be incorporated under the SSSI programme.
This along with similar work on the range of species across the moors will then be presented to Natural England next February.
Further assessment will then need to be undertaken on the research findings and, if all the critieria are met, the SSSI designation could be made around Christmas 2013.
Councils bordering the moors such as Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn, Rossendale and Chorley should be consulted as part of the process.
And the views of individuals and environmental groups would also be considered.
Further information is expected to be placed on the West Pennine Moors website: (www.westpenninemoors.com) during the consultation period and notices placed at strategic points across the moors.
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