BOSSES of a treetop adventure course face opposition to plans to expand their operation.

Go Ape in Rivington sparked protests ahead of its opening in 2009 because local residents feared it would be a blight on one of the area’s bestloved beauty spots.

Hundreds of people marched through Rivington in November 2008 as they tried to stop developers building the attraction.

Now, the owners want to extend the course to “improve visitor experience”.

Plans submitted to Chorley Council include an additional zip wire to replace a down ladder at the site furthest from the car park.

The Friends of Lever Park, who have been campaigning against Chorley Council after planning permission for the original course was granted under delegated powers, say they will fight the proposals even harder.

They claim any development is prohibited by Acts of Parliament which state people should be allowed free and uninterrupted use of the area.

Bob Dootson, chairman of the Friends of Lever Park, said: “We will be fighting this even stronger than we did before.

“This is not against Go Ape, but we have to ask where is this going to end?

“If planning approval is granted, it will be contrary to the 1902 Liverpool Corporation Act and the Lever Park Act 1969.

“These are Acts of Parliament and, if ignored, would present a legal challenge.”

Ben Davies, Go Ape business development manager, said: “Our original planning permission included a zip line, however we decided not to build this because of ecological concerns. We have since designed a smaller zip to finish the course which removes the need to fell trees and completes the experience.

“We appreciate there will always be a number of people who do not like Go Ape, however the vast majority of local people and park users believe we bring value, both to families enjoying the experience and for our contribution to the area.

“Go Ape at Rivington saw more than 20,000 people take to the trees last year.

This year, we were voted Best Tourism Experience of the Year at the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourism Awards and 7,440 customers have visited us.”

The application is expected to go before Chorley Council’s planning committee next month.