A MAJOR drive is underway to upgrade a river which winds its way across Lancashire from its source at Winter Hill.

For years the River Douglas, which connects Horwich, Chorley and Wigan, has been a victim of its industrial past.

Ecologists from the Ribble Rivers Trust say the waterway has been considered 'degraded' due to pollution caused by nearby construction and factories.

Antiquated weirs are thought to be one of the main barriers to fish being able to use the river to spawn.

But now the Communities ministry and the European Regional Development Fund has now released more than £890,000 which will begin to turn around the Douglas' fortunes.

The rivers trust has launched OUR, the Opening Up the River Douglas Project, aiming to open up fish passes from Horwich to Gathurst, near Wigan.

A RRT spokesman said: "The project will achieve its aims through reconnecting river habitats, resulting in a river environment that will support greater abundance and diversity of fish, invertebrates, bird and mammals.

"Through improving one of the major rivers within Lancashire’s unique landscape the project aims to also raise awareness of the river and its biodiversity, with the enhanced blue space benefitting people as well as wildlife."

Two weirs near Horwich, Upstream Pincroft and Downstream Pincroft, are among the eight en-route which will benefit.

Work is expected to continue through this years as well as 2021 and 2022 and will affect 106 hectares.

For the effort, £505,828 from the Communities department and £387,347 from Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside, as well as charitable funding from Ribble Rivers Trust. Surveys will take place later to monitor their success.