HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds of investment will be devoted to promoting the heritage and wildlife on Walney's coastline.

More than £444,000 has been earmarked to boost the economy, ecology and profile of the island as part of Big Lottery's Coastal Communities Fund.

This injection of cash marks the first stage of a 10-year project in the area, led and shaped by members of the community.

A working group, The Islands and Bays of Barrow Coastal Community Team, was pulled together by arts charity Art Gene to push for investment.

In partnership with the county and borough councils, as well as heritage and environmental experts, they formed a vision of what they wanted for the future of the area.

Maddi Nicholson, lead for the Barrow CCT. CCT lead, Maddi Nicholson of Art Gene, said: "Barrow is a great place to live with an amazing coastline. We found that it's the number one rated borough in England because of the quality of its coast. However, no one seems to believe this.

"We therefore jumped at the chance to apply for coastal town funding generated by income from offshore wind farms, especially because nearly a quarter of it is from the sea off Walney. Our economic plan is to use this funding to promote our nature and get it to make living here even better. You never know, even people outside Barrow might start to realise it too."

One of the first of many developments funded by the grant will be the transformation of a derelict building in Sandy Gap into a new visitor centre.

This will both provide employment and act as a starting point for people wanting to explore the peninsula.

The Coastal Communities Fund is said to represent the government's commitment to improving the lives of towns and communities on the coast.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: "We’re backing the Great British coast with £40m to create new jobs, boost economic growth and increase tourism. This new funding will help attract even more tourists to our coast and help our seaside towns and coastal areas thrive."

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If you're interested about the £13m plan for improving the Furness coast, click here

Art Gene are delving into Walney's past with a community-based archaeological dig