THE Forestry Commission has amended the restocking order imposed on a Ribble Valley landowner who sparked outrage after ‘illegally’ cutting down 70 trees in Darwen.

In May 2018 damage to the woodland along the path to Darwen Tower between Belgrave Road and Manor Road angered nearby residents.

They contacted Blackburn with Darwen Council whose officials alerted the Forestry Commission which measured the scale of the damage and decided the landowner had breached national guidelines requiring a licence to fell more than five cubic metres of timber.

In October that year it served a restocking notice on the landowner, whom they have declined to name.

It requires the planting of 957 trees on the site to redress the damage done by the felling of the 70 mature trees. Failure to do so could lead to prosecution of the landowner and a potential fine.

Now the commission had varied the notice to require the planting of 894 trees.

The new notice specifies: "The amended notice now incorporates natural regeneration and excludes a small area on the eastern edge of the site.

"The open space element has increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, and the Forestry Commission expects a portion of this to facilitate the path that runs through the site."

It requires that the restocking with broadleaf trees is carried out by the June 30 and not include Ash trees.

They must be maintained and looked after for 10 years.

When details of the changed order were reported to Blackburn with Darwen Council planning committee, its chairman Cllr Dave Smith said: "People just came and chopped them down.

"I believe the landowner is an elderly lady in the Ribble Valley."

Conservative group planning spokesman Cllr Paul Marrow said: "It is good to see someone is acting to put back what has been chopped down."