Wirral Council is moving forward on developing a new beach management plan for Hoylake and will be engaging with residents, elected members and other stakeholders as part of this process.

An expert-led, independent scientific study of the beach will help give everyone a clear understanding of the ecology of the beach; how it has changed in the past and also how it is likely to change in future with rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

We will provide regular updates on this work and how people can get involved in the engagement exercise in due course.

Hoylake Beach is home to a range of rare or nationally important species and habitats and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This means it is protected under law from anything that puts those elements at risk. Hoylake is special for its intertidal sands, embryonic saltmarsh and mudflats, and as a feeding and roosting site for waders and wildfowl.

Hoylake is also designated as a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Ramsar site, meaning it has international importance for its intertidal habitats, including sand and mudflats, saltmarsh and sand dunes. These habitats support internationally important populations of waders, wildfowl, terns and gulls.

While the beach is public open space and managed by the local authority, Natural England is responsible for regulating certain activities taking place there to maintain its SSSI status.

That doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy the beach with a degree of freedom; we can visit, walk the dog, have a picnic or watch the wildlife - from a safe distance. We should keep dogs under control and always avoid disturbing birds, especially around high tide, when they are roosting to conserve energy. 

We should clear up any dog mess, as well as any man-made litter we generate. However, it is important to remember that things like driftwood and dead grasses found on the beach are known as strandline debris, and the build-up and natural break down of this debris is part of the beach’s regeneration. Please contact us if you need more advice on this.

We are aware that dirty surface water from nearby and surrounding roads can sometimes drain through the historic highway drainage system and can sometimes find its way onto the beach. We are doing what we can to mitigate this looking at long term solutions.

NB: Wirral Council has now ceased weed-spraying on all its beaches and in parks. Any maintenance works necessary on Hoylake Beach is carried out manually by council staff or council-appointed contractors with assent from Natural England.

Hoylake beach management timescales

Stage 1 - April 2021 onwards

Define constraints and evidence base constraints

Any future Hoylake Beach Management Plan (HBMP) will need to be subject to a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA). In order for the HBMP to receive assent from Natural England, the management activities considered in the HRA need to align with the Natural England’s objectives for North Wirral Foreshore Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Wirral Council has used Natural England’s Discretionary Advisory Service (DAS) to identify the constraints within which any future beach management at Hoylake must be implemented.

The DAS provides a steer for future beach management. The DAS should be set out as the framework within which the Council is looking to develop a HBMP at all stages of consultation. 

Evidence Base: to be procured April 2021 following the Procurement Brief and Specification at Committee Approval.

Procure an Ecology and Geomorphology Study (EGS) for Hoylake Beach.

The EGS will include an ecological survey of Hoylake Beach which will identify and map what species are growing where. The EGS will also use existing data to look at how Hoylake Beach has changed, how that change is impacted by the ecology at Hoylake Beach and continuing natural coastal processes and also how Hoylake Beach will change when considering future climate change scenarios. The outputs of the EGS will be used to identify whether management options are sustainable.

This will improve understanding of the current and likely future evolution of Hoylake Beach.

Stage 2 - April/May 2021

Set up 'Have your say' website for the Hoylake beach management project. Timescales, key dates and information.

Stage 3 - January 2022

Publish ecology and geomorphology study project site.

Following review by the Steering Group publish a non-technical summary and more detailed technical report of the EGS.

The evidence base that will be used to inform development of the Hoylake Beach Management Plan.

Stage 4 - January to March 2022

Initial consultation - seeking your views on Hoylake Beach Management

Identifying the framework set by Natural England's Discretionary Advisory Service, existing data and the findings of the Ecology and Geomorphology Study, the first phase of consultation will seek a wide range of views from key stakeholders and the wider public, on the future management of Hoylake Beach. 

We will gather all views on the future of Hoylake Beach and inform development of a series of SMART objectives for future management.

Stage 5 - March 2022

Future Management Objectives

Based on the outputs of the initial consultation a series of objectives for the future management of Hoylake Beach established.

Stage 6 - June 2022

Develop short list of management options

The Short List of options will be subject to further consultation to identify a preferred management option.

Stage 7 - July 2022 to September 2022

Options for further public consultation.

Stage 8 - October 2022 to December 2022

Approval of Hoylake Beach Management Plan by committee.

Stage 9 - January 2023 to March 2023

Natural England review the Habitat Regulations Assessment for Hoylake Beach Management Plan and issue agreement notice.

Stage 10 - April 2023

Deliver Hoylake Beach Management Plan.