Time is running out to have a say on Hoylake beach options

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A consultation on two proposed options for the future management of Hoylake beach will close on Monday 25 March.

Wirral Council says both options “aim to balance providing safe access for RNLI life-saving operations while retaining some amenity beach space and vegetation”.

The Access for All option

The ‘Access for All’ option proposes the removal of 1.92 hectares of vegetation primarily around the RNLI lifeboat station, but also including the slipways at King’s Gap, Alderley Road, and Trinity Road; a 10m wide strip along the seawall from Clydesdale Road to King’s Gap extending around the Alderley Road slipway and Trinity Road steps and a 10m wide cleared strip from King’s Gap through the vegetation to the sandy beach.

The Amenity Beach option

The ’Amenity Beach’ option proposes the removal of just over three hectares of vegetation, similar to the ‘Access for All’ option, but with a larger area of ‘amenity’ beach being provided towards Trinity Road.

However, the final plan remains subject to habitat risk assessments and Natural England approval, meaning there is a question mark over whether either of the proposals would get the green light.

The environmental body’s representative Stephen Ayliffe told a council meeting in 2022 that any proposals would be assessed on their “environmental impact” and “regulatory tests”.

He warned councillors against setting too high a bar for the removal of vegetation, saying there would need to be compensatory measures elsewhere on the beach: “There may be multipliers involved so you might end up with quite a big task in terms of finding compensation so I am just making the committee aware that that is not an easy route.”

Detailed maps and information on each proposal are available on the council’s consultation website and an online survey is available at https://haveyoursay.wirral.gov.uk/hoylake-beach-management-plan.

Feedback from the consultation will be included in a report going to the environment, climate emergency and transport committee meeting in April.

A separate consultation over giving the beach ‘village green’ status recently ended. The title is not related to protecting the grass and wild flowers that have been growing on the beach, but enhancing its use as ‘recreational space’ – which some argue is hindered by the grass.

Wirral Council has said that if the application is approved, the implications “will have to be considered in line with the new Beach Management Plan”, but that the beach “will remain protected by law from any activities or behaviours that could damage the special interest of the site, including anything that could cause harm or disruption to the range of rare or nationally important species and habitats”.