Special new status for West Pennine Moors

Published Monday 5 December 2016 at 14:58

Special legal protection has been granted for the West Pennine Moors to safeguard the area’s important wildlife and habitats.

The area that stretches from Blackburn with Darwen to Ramsbottom is the largest new site of special scientific interest (SSSI) notified by Natural England since 2004 and covers a total of 76 square kilometres.

The move reflects the national significance of the area and its combination of upland habitats, moorland fringe grasslands and woodland, which support an impressive array of breeding birds.

Merlin, curlew, snipe, lapwing and redshank nest in the area and it also has large breeding colonies of both black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls.

The moors also provide access to clean water, help reduce flood risks and bring enjoyment to millions of visitors.

Natural England says it intends to work with owners and land managers to continue to protect and enhance the wildlife importance of the area, whilst maximising the other benefits from the moors.

This includes sensitive management of blanket bogs through careful grazing by cattle or sheep, and maintaining water levels at or around the surface of the peat to make sure the habitat is at its healthiest.

Mike Burke, Natural England’s Area Manager for Cheshire to Lancashire said:

The West Pennine Moors are truly special and wholly warrant this SSSI status. It confers special legal protection and recognises the national scientific importance of its mosaic of upland habitats and populations of breeding birds.

We will continue to work with all farmers, landowners and conservation groups across the area over the coming weeks and months to explain the importance of this designation and agree how we can work together to protect the area now and in the future.

Landowners, occupiers and interested parties now have 4 months in which to make representations or objections to Natural England, who will then decide whether or not to confirm the notification.

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