AN environment minister has stressed the government's commitment to the further development of Bolton's Smithill's Estate.

The 1,700 acres of moorland and trees is currently recovering from the effects of last year's Winter Hill fire.

Owners The Woodland Trust and army of volunteers are at work repairing the damage.

Bolton West Conservative MP Chris Green tackled junior minister David Rutley on its future during Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions in the House of Commons.

He asked him: "Reforesting is an important part of the Conservative agenda on the environment.

"Do you agree that the Woodland Trust’s Smithills estate is a key part of that strategy?"

Junior environment minister Mr Rutley replied: "I agree.

"The Smithills Estate was where the first tree of the northern forest was planted, which is a very important step forward.

"It is a great site, overshadowed by the wonderful Winter Hill TV mast.

"I love it and I am grateful for your support for it."