Call for action to replace Risley Moss viewing platform destroyed in arson attack


FOUR years on from an arson attack on a viewing platform at Risley Moss the burnt remains of the tower remain as a “grim reminder of a lost treasure.”

Now Birchwood Cllr Nigel Balding is calling for action to tidy up the area and a progress report on a replacement facility after a local appeal fund raised £12,000.
He says that when Risley Moss opened to the pubic in 1980 one of the main attractions was the iconic observation tower. This afforded visitors a fantastic view across Risley Moss and all the associated ponds and peat bunds. It was a favourite spot for bird watchers and an educational interpretation board identified points of interest visible on the horizon such as the Goyt Valley.
When the tower was burnt down by arsonists in 2017, the loss was felt deeply by the local community of Birchwood. In the aftermath friends and residents spontaneously rallied around donating their own money to a restoration fund which now stands at £12,000. Warrington Borough Council also quickly pledged to support a replacement.
Two years later in 2019, Warrington Borough Council unveiled replacement plans including a scale model which was shown to more than 1,200 visitors at the annual Risley Moss Green Safari Day event. A new observation platform would be built from metal rather than wood to prevent arson; it would have disabled access; it would be placed in a different location to avoid contaminated land; and it would cost over £250,000.
Today, four years after the fire, progress on a replacement for the tower seems to be on hold. Worse still, the site of the old tower is mostly taped off for health and safety reasons.
Cllr Balding says the burnt-out legs of the tower rise up from the ground like ghosts bearing witness to the local apocalypse and stand as a grim reminder to returning visitors of a lost treasure for education and enjoyment which stood for nearly 40 years.
Visitors are shepherded along a narrow path between orange plastic fences and the charred remains towards the one remaining picnic table, where they have to crane their necks to see over bushes towards mosses and ponds.
Cllr Balding said: “It would be great to see more progress on the construction of a new observation tower, but at the same time the area where the old tower stood should be tidied up and brought back into use.
“There is a good example of an observation platform in the car park which overlooks the mini-moss. This type of structure requires no groundworks and would cost little in comparison to the benefits it would bring.
“I’m pressing the council to do something soon and I’m amazed at the patience of Birchwood residents; four years of waiting is far too long.
“This is a valuable and well-used area of Risley Moss and we can’t afford to ignore the problem any longer.”


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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