PLANS for a UNESCO Geopark in the Black Country have moved a step closer to fruition after it received international backing from bosses.

Back in 2016, Dudley joined the other Black Country authorities in submitting plans for the region to become an internationally-recognised UNESCO Global Geopark in celebration of its unique geology and the part it played in the Industrial Revolution.

Now, the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council have recommended the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark bid be endorsed by UNESCO bosses next Spring, at a meeting of bosses in Indonesia.

The recommendation is no guarantee, but the team behind the bid say it is a positive step forward in its efforts to secure the starry status.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: "Our bid is now in the hands of the UNESCO Executive Board and there’s a real sense we’re now on the brink of success.

"This has been a lengthy process but one we are completely committed to as we truly believe we have what it takes to be part of the UNESCO Global Geopark family and put our fantastic geological heritage on the world map.

"Securing UNESCO Global Geopark status will potentially open up significant opportunities for the Black Country in terms of access to international funding for local projects and boosting our visitor economy."

The bid team were given two years in 2017 to finesse the bid before making a final application.

The final decision will be made by the Executive Board of UNESCO when it meets in the spring.

Ninder Johal, board member of Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "The recommendation from the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council is a positive step on our journey to securing Global Geopark status. From monuments to geological exposures and museums, the geosites that perform part of our shared bid tell the Black Country’s landscape story.

"UNESCO Global Geopark status for the Black Country would help to secure our national and cultural heritage assets for future generations. I look forward to the final decision in spring next year."