A CONTROVERSIAL plan to paint '1612' in 500ft-high numbers on Pendle Hill to mark the 400th anniversary of the infamous witch trials is set to go-ahead.

Councillors had pulled the plug on proposals by artist Philippe Handford following objections by some Barley residents and the Bishop of Burnley who spoke out against the plans.

Consequently, Pendle Council decided not to go ahead with plans to fund the £1,500 project.

However Moorhouse's Brewery in Burnley has thrown its support behind Philippe, who has the permission of the landowner to carry out the work.

Philippe said: "Its all systems go. It should take me a week to do but it depends on the weather.

"It needs to be dry and can't rain at all. I think it will make people investigate what happened 400 years ago and the local injustice that took place."

He said the paint was biodegradable, he has tested it for Natural England and it would be visible on the hill for a month.

A brewery spokesman said: “The image should be spectacular. It will be seen for miles around when the anniversary activities are in full swing in August including the Witch Walk on 18 August.

“Placed on the Barley side of Pendle Hill the image will be as high as possible centrally below the trig point – but will only be visible for a short time.

“Philippe has put a great deal into ensuring that the image will have maximum impact but leave no lasting effect. He has consulted with several bodies, including the land owner and Natural England, and fully tested a water based grass paint, which will disappear within a few weeks at most.”

Julian Jordan, one of the organisers of the Pendle Witch Walk, said: “This is a victory for common sense. Hundreds of walkers in witch fancy dress climbing Pendle Hill as it is adorned with the numerals 1612 will undoubtedly be a defining image that will attract national attention."