People give their verdict on future of Hoylake Beach

Amid long-running and bitter dispute local people vote two-thirds in favour of one of two options for the future of Hoylake Beach with Wirral councillors set to make final decision. Tony McDonough reports

Hoylake Beach
Hoylake Beach in Wirral. Picture by Tony McDonough


A public consultation into the future management of Hoylake Beach has revealed a clear preference for one of two options with Wirral councillors set to make a final decision.

Wirral’s Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee will hope to settle a bitter five-year dispute over how the council looks after the beach when it meets on April 15.

A “fundamental consideration” in developing the new Hoylake Beach Management Plan are the life-saving operations of the RNLI and their ability to continue to launch and operate lifeboats from the Hoylake foreshore.

Until 2019 the authority had been using the pesticide glyphosate to keep the spread of vegetation on the beach in check. However, strong objections led to the end of this practice and since then the volume of vegetation has spread significantly.

Some local people say this has made the beach a less attractive place to visit and walk on but others say letting nature take its course is the right thing to do. In February and March local people were asked to consider two options:

Option1: Access for All

This proposes the removal of 1.92 hectares of vegetation primarily around the RNLI lifeboat station.

It also includes  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.

Option 2: Amenity Beach

This 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.

Both options being put forward include proposals for differing levels of vegetation removal in order that some amenity space can be retained at the beach and that safe access can be provided for the RNLI for their life-saving operations.

Following the consultation it has now been revealed that around two-thirds of respondents stated a preference for Option 2, the Amenity beach, which is now being recommended by officers. Councillors on the committee will make the final decision.

Wirral Council said: “Members will be asked to accept a recommendation for the council to continue to work with Natural England on developing a new beach management plan that approximates as closely as possible to the ‘amenity beach’ proposal.

“The life-saving operations of the RNLI and their ability to continue to launch and operate from the Hoylake foreshore was a central consideration in the development of both proposals that went out for consultation.

“Whichever option members of the committee decide to take forward, further refinements and activities will need to take place before the plan gains the necessary agreement from Natural England to be implemented.”

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These include the development and refinement of Habitat Regulation Assessments, further advice from the Marine Management Organisation on a discretionary basis, a risk assessment under the Environment Agency’s Water Framework Directive and a Marine Licence Application and a Protected Species Survey.

This work, plus progress on any additional refinements required on advice from Natural England, means it is unlikely that the new Beach Management Plan will receive final approval from Natural England before September 2024.

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