A PEACEFUL day of protest was held in the Ribble Valley to highlight the ‘plight’ of the rare Hen Harrier.

Around 200 people attended the event in Dunsop Bridge, organised by the North West Raptor Protection Group.

The protest took place on the village green in the heart of the scenic Forest of Bowland and was the fourth of its kind and was designed to coincide with National Hen Harrier Peaceful Protest Day.

Organisers said the‘landmark’ event aimed to voice ‘displeasure and concern at the continuing illegal persecution’ of the Hen Harrier bird of prey throughout England’s uplands.

Terry Pickford, Chairman of North West Raptor Group said this year’s event was the 'best-attended yet'.

Mr Pickford said: “We’ve organised this event in Dunsop Bridge for the past four years.

“This year’s was the best-attended yet and saw around 200 people turn up.

“People came from all parts of the country, some as far as 400 miles.

“We know of one couple who were going back from the North of Scotland via the M6 to Cornwall and they turned back round to Dunsop when they heard this event was taking place.

“The main aim of the peaceful protest was to raise awareness of the illegal slaughtering of Hen Harriers, a protected species on grouse moor.”

Mr Pickford said there were no breeding Hen Harriers on any English Red Grouse Moorland during 2016 and 2017, when there should be at least 320 breeding pairs.

He said: “There are only three fledged Hen Harrier chicks in the forestry commission in Northumberland.

“It’s disgraceful and this protest is aimed at raising awareness to people of what’s happening.

“Millions of pounds of taxpayers money is being subsidised by the government to allow this illegal practice take place.”

Guest speakers at the event included Emmerdale star Nick Miles, who plays Jimmy King, Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party, Brian Etheridge, former Senior Ecologist with the RSPB, retired Luke Steele and Chrissie Harper, a leading owl expert from Oxfordshire.

There were also a number of paintings up for auction on the day, with money raised going towards protecting Hen Harriers.