A TOWNSHIP is get two new temporary football pitches as part of compensation work for disruption caused by a £1billion project to upgrade a vital water pipeline.

They will be at Great Harwood's Memorial Park to make up for the loss of one because of the creation of a compound on land of Bolton Avenue in Huncoat.

The two pitches are among a string of improvements promised by United Utilities as it starts to refurbish the 70-plus year old Haweswater Aqueduct which supplies water from the Lake District to Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

It will involve using a specially-designed underground drilling machine to bore 13 miles of new tunnels for pipes of which three will be in Hyndburn Borough.

James Cullen of United Utilities told councillors the work was essential to keeping water flowing through the 68 mile pipeline to serve 2.5million customers.

He was appearing before Hyndburn Council planning committee as it debated the firm's application for the Haslingden and Walmersley Section of the scheme.

The Haweswater Aqueduct Resilience Programme represents one of the largest UK investments in public water supply infrastructure in the last 50 years.

Two other parts of the scheme - the Bowland and Marl Hill sections - cut through Ribble Valley and a third affects Rossendale.

The committee was debating proposed works centred on land off Bolton Avenue, Huncoat, to land near Pewitt Hall Farm, Back Lane, Accrington.

The meeting granted planning permission for the project within the borough as the environmental improvements and landscape reinstatement proposals were detailed.

As well as the new Great Harwood pitches several footpaths in the borough will be upgraded and more than £100,000 given to Hyndburn Council to improve biodiversity at the Peel Park/Pleck Meadows Local Nature Reserve.

United Utilities will also finance a full-time Community Liaison Officer for Hyndburn during the four-year project and pay for Lancashire County Council to employ a new highways officer to oversee the impact of the scheme on the local road network.

A traffic calming scheme is proposed for Burnley Road in Huncoat including reducing the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph - a temporary measure the committee said it wished to see made permanent.

Chief planning officer Simon Prideaux told the committee: "This is probably the biggest application we have had for several years. It is a very long route."

Mr Cullen said: "The scheme requires new tunnels for the pipeline. We have tried to avoid tunnelling under buildings and avoid historic mine workings.

"The landscape will be reinstated."

Committee chairman and Huncoat ward councillor Eamonn Higgins said: "We cannot do without it for sure.

"It's not the case that we cannot allow this. We have got to approve it of course."

A section of the scheme has already been approved by Bury Council and planning applications for two more segments are being prepared to go before Ribble Valley and Rossendale Councils.