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Campaign group joins MP in London funding bid to revive Walney coastline

BIGGAR AND BETTER: Members of the Better Biggar Bank Community Group and supporters are (from left) Mark McKinnell, Nancy McKinnell, Charlie Mackeith, Maddi Nicholson, John Walker, John Woodcock MP, Isabel Hardman, Steve Benn, Cassie Curtis-Smith, Labour councillor Frank Cassidy, Elaine Roberts, Sandra Murray

THE owners of the world’s largest offshore windfarm will today [Thursday] be asked to invest some of the company’s profits into reviving the western coastline of Walney with a special focus on Biggar Bank.

Senior personnel from Danish power company Ørsted, whose giant turbines are a feature of Walney’s western horizon, have agreed to meet Barrow independent MP John Woodcock and local campaigners in Westminster.

Mr Woodcock will gather with members of the Better Biggar Bank Community Group, and Natural England to present the recent history of the area and their case for Ørsted to work alongside them to bring about improvements.

Mr Woodcock said: “In the past Biggar Bank, Sandy Gap and Earnse Bay were popular locations for local people to spend their leisure time, but over the years a number of factors – not least the disappearance of the open-air baths and the public toilets – have caused them to lose their appeal.

“Our aim is to bring the good times back to this stretch of the island and lots of work has gone into producing the Walney Island Coastal Plan which we will present to Ørsted in London.

“Ørsted has already shown itself to be a good neighbour by helping out with a community investment programme and other activities, but we think the company is a perfect fit to become involved with our engagement plan that can transform the island and boost the visitor economy.”

Included in the blueprint are plans to establish a 10-year clean-up project for Walney and its nature reserves and a scheme to replace the decaying path that stretches the length of Biggar Bank.

Better Biggar Bank Community Group chairperson Nancy McKinnell said: “The opportunity to meet with the Ørsted chief executive is a great opportunity for our group to convey how much Biggar Bank is valued by its residents and all who use it.

“We hope Ørsted will support our wish to enhance the natural beauty of this area and make it accessible to all users by investing in a path and toilet facilities.

“As a resident and local headteacher whose school regularly visit the bank this is vital investment. With the support of local business the group has been able to buy picnic benches which are shortly to be sited on the bank.

“Local councillors have worked tirelessly to move things forward but what is required is a large capital investment. We hope Orsted will make our dreams come true for the benefit of the community and visitors alike making Biggar Bank a destination once again.”

The residents group includes the team from Huddlehub a community body that has just obtained a five-year lease on the Roundhouse, a former restaurant at the top of Ocean Road, which will be re-opened soon as a café and the toilets will be open to the public.

The group also includes the Sandy Gap community interest company that is restoring the former Red Cross base as Walney’s visitor centre with a café. Director Maddi Nicholson says: “It’s been a long journey for us to get to this point, so it is really rewarding to see the residents’ group’s actions to upgrade the bank’s paths as a start to wider improvements to the island.

“Wearing another hat on Barrow’s local Coastal Community Team, we have been championing Barrow as the number one rated borough in England for our nature and landscapes. Walney is key to us being number one and Ørsted’s support for a phased plan will help more enjoy it.”

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