Council to start Hoylake ‘amenity beach’ discussions with Natural England

Hoylake Beach. Image supplied by We Love Hoylake
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Councillors have backed the results of a recent public consultation over the future of Hoylake beach – but will now need to enter negotiations with Natural England in order to secure approval to remove plants and vegetation.

At a meeting of the environment, climate emergency and transport committee on Monday 15 April, a majority of members voted in favour of the ‘amenity beach’ option.

It had been supported by roughly two-thirds of those who responded to the recent survey, and proposes the removal of just over three hectares of vegetation towards Trinity Road, around the lifeboat station.

It marks a victory for the campaign groups who have been calling for a section of the beach to be raked, and is a significant step forward in a debate which has been going on for five years, with other groups arguing nature should be allowed to take its course.

Campaigner Charlotte Smith read a statement on behalf of Hoylake Beach Community. She said the beach was a “crown jewel that has been taken away from us” and criticised the council for previously ignoring the strength of public feeling about the issue.

Presenting the report to members, Jason Gooding, the council’s Director of Neighbourhood Services, told members the option will need to be approved by Natural England.

Liberal Democrat councillor, Allan Brame, asked whether the committee could choose to ignore Natural England, but was advised by council officers that as a ‘regulatory body’ they have the power to enforce and take action against the local authority.

Hoylake and Meols Conservative councillor, Max Booth, backed the proposal, arguing “we need to send a united message to Natural England” and “restore faith in the [democratic] process”.

However, Green Party councillor, Jason Walsh argued the consultation had been “rushed through”. He said the beach now has “some of the rarest species [of plants] on earth”, and said the council is “picking a fight with nature”.

Chair of the committee, Cllr Liz Grey, who has been the subject of highly personal criticism from some of the campaigners who wanted raking to resume, said while she had disagreed with some about the way forward, she had been calling for a compromise since 2019.

It is believed unlikely the new Beach Management Plan will receive final approval from Natural England before September 2024.

Work on removing vegetation cannot begin before April 2025 due to wildlife restrictions.

The council says the plan will also include activities to address the maintenance of drains, the maintenance of Hoylake boating lake and managing sand blown on to the promenade.