Huge plan to improve Burnley moorland

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More than 1,000 hectares of bleak and beautiful moorland east of Burnley is to be improved by United Utilities for the benefit of ramblers, mountain bikers and bird life.

Worsthorne Moor, beyond the villages of Worsthorne and Hurstwood, is to enjoy an ambitious restoration project which will prevent the erosion of vital peatland and boost visitor access and amenities.

The project will see Maidens Cross car park resurfaced, new information signs installed and wheelchair access improved. Heather and peat restoration and removal of invasive, non-native vegetation, meanwhile, will protect the habitats of rare animal species which rely on the rugged landscape.

A mountain bike trail through Hurstwood Wood is also being mooted – to provide a dedicated facility for thrill seekers who already improvise their own routes through the wood. This element is currently awaiting planning consent.

Plans are also being made to organise field visits for local schools to the revamped estate, to support students’ environmental studies.

Water company United Utilities, which owns and manages the moorland, has teamed up with Lancashire County Council to deliver the three-year scheme.

Up to £300,000 will be invested under the scheme – comprising contributions from United Utilities and Lancashire County Council and a £150,000 Heritage Lottery grant as part of the Watershed Landscape Project, managed by Pennine Prospects, the regeneration company for the South Pennines.

Worsthorne Moor plays host to many rare bird species, including the twite (known locally as the Pennine finch), curlew, golden plover, skylark, snipe and peregrine falcon – making it a popular destination among bird watchers.

Water from the moorland’s reservoirs of Cant Clough and Hustwood is sent to Worsthorne water treatment works, before being piped to thousands of customers in Burnley.

United Utilities is also finalising plans for a second, ambitious restoration scheme for the moorland, which could see up to 100 hectares of peat land reinvigorated. Full plans are expected to be announced by the water company in spring.