A COMMUNITY group has announced a plan to improve the woods.

Friends of Sunnyhurst Woods has launched an eight step ‘masterplan’ to help the group with future plans for developing, conserving and maintaining Sunnyhurst Woods.

The plan is separated into four themes which include access, nature conservation, biodiversity and woodland management, heritage and structures and recreation and public amenity.

These themes address structural elements of the woodland including drainage, paths and entryways as well as signage, landscaping and pond work.

The plan also states that work will be done to restore the natural habitats and biodiversity of the woodland and streams, as Sunnyhurst woods is a biological heritage site and is also designated

as a local nature reserve.

Group chairman Hayley Kilpatrick said the group have paid for surveys to be done on the woods to give them an idea of the extent of cost and work that needs to be done.

She said: “The surveys costs have come in at over £6,000 so we have been working hard fundraising

and putting in grant applications.

“These surveys and the information will cost up projects and give us an idea of what needs to be done.

“Once completed we can forward plan for fundraising and look at bidding for grants to complete drainage, paths and heritage projects.

 “Crown Paints Community Awards in Partnership with Darwen Town Council have awarded us £2,000 towards the costs.

“The Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood have put in £2,000 of money they have raised towards the Masterplan and Newground Together awarded us £3,411, the remaining amount required to get

the work completed. 

“We want to thank Crown Paints Community Awards in Partnership with Darwen Town Council and Newgroud Together for awarding us this funding and believing

in our project.

“We would also like to thanks everyone who has attended our events and donated to our cause.

“The group are so excited to get this far.”

United Utilities will also continue to work in the woods following the landslide two years ago.

The water company own and operate the Sunnyhurst Impounding Reservoir which is situated to the north of Woods.

Following the landslide In August 2016, the reservoir bank collapse affected a significant number of trees, the stream at the bottom of the bank, and several footpaths.

In the interest of public health and safety, and for operational purposes, most of the north section of the woods was closed off to public access.

United Utilities have undertaken re-stabilisation works over the last two years and the footpaths have started to open once again allowing access to the majority of the woods.

A spokesman for United Utilities said: We’ll continue to have a presence at Sunnyhurst Woods until next year (2019).

During this time we’ll be completing various pipeline works, footpath reinstatement work, slope stabilisation and tree maintenance.

Since the landslide our team has made large areas safe, allowing a number of footpaths to be opened back up for the public. 

We’ll continue to work with key stakeholders and the local community to help keep disruption to a minimum.