Hoylake Beach Information

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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.

The work will be carried out in a number of stages.

The first stage in the work is to develop an expert-led, independent scientific study of the beach which will help to 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. Survey work on the beach will be undertaken in August with the report expected to be published in November 2021.

Following this, from December 2021 to February 2022 we will carry out an initial consultation seeking out views on future Hoylake beach management. This feedback will be used to develop draft objectives for Hoylake beach and future management options.

At this point there will be a second public consultation from July to September 2022 to allow review of the objectives and options. The preferred options from that consultation will be reported to Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee where Councillors will make the decision on future beach management.

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

A set of detailed frequently asked questions (FAQ) has been developed and is published below. If you have any enquiries that are not addressed here please contact us: hoylakebeach@wirral.gov.uk


Hoylake Beach Document Library

The Council has collated a set of reports, maps and photographs related to Hoylake Beach. These can be accessed through Google Drive via the 'Document Library' button below. Please note that some of the file sizes are large and make take some time to download. Guidance on how to access and download files from Google Drive is provided in the Documents section of this page. If you have any issues with Google Drive access, please contact us: hoylakebeach@wirral.gov.uk

Due to the nature of the documents, they may not be suitable to view for users of assistive technology or mobile phones. If you need a copy of any of these documents, please contact us through the email address above.

Aerial Photography and Sediment Information is subject to an open government licence. Any re-use of the data must credit the North West and North Wales Coastal Group through the North West Regional Monitoring Programme www.coastalmonitoring.org

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.

The work will be carried out in a number of stages.

The first stage in the work is to develop an expert-led, independent scientific study of the beach which will help to 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. Survey work on the beach will be undertaken in August with the report expected to be published in November 2021.

Following this, from December 2021 to February 2022 we will carry out an initial consultation seeking out views on future Hoylake beach management. This feedback will be used to develop draft objectives for Hoylake beach and future management options.

At this point there will be a second public consultation from July to September 2022 to allow review of the objectives and options. The preferred options from that consultation will be reported to Environment, Climate Emergency and Transport Committee where Councillors will make the decision on future beach management.

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

A set of detailed frequently asked questions (FAQ) has been developed and is published below. If you have any enquiries that are not addressed here please contact us: hoylakebeach@wirral.gov.uk


Hoylake Beach Document Library

The Council has collated a set of reports, maps and photographs related to Hoylake Beach. These can be accessed through Google Drive via the 'Document Library' button below. Please note that some of the file sizes are large and make take some time to download. Guidance on how to access and download files from Google Drive is provided in the Documents section of this page. If you have any issues with Google Drive access, please contact us: hoylakebeach@wirral.gov.uk

Due to the nature of the documents, they may not be suitable to view for users of assistive technology or mobile phones. If you need a copy of any of these documents, please contact us through the email address above.

Aerial Photography and Sediment Information is subject to an open government licence. Any re-use of the data must credit the North West and North Wales Coastal Group through the North West Regional Monitoring Programme www.coastalmonitoring.org

  • Frequently Asked Questions

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    The council isn’t listening to me – why not?

    The council listens to arguments and opinions on all sides. This is why we are engaging with the public now and taking the time to ask independent environmental specialists to study the beach and how it is changing, so when we do go out to consult with residents and stakeholders, there will be a greater understanding of what is needed to manage this special stretch of coastline for the long-term.

    Why will the council be asking everyone about managing Hoylake beach, you should just be asking Hoylake residents as we have to live with the beach?

    Hoylake is a site of international importance, so it is vital that anyone with an interest in the beach is given an opportunity to express their views when the time comes for public consultation.

    I don’t live in Hoylake – will my views be taken into account?

    Yes, Hoylake is a site of international importance, so it is vital that anyone with an interest in the beach is given an opportunity to express their views when the time comes for public consultation.

    How will the council decide on how to manage the beach?

    The council will take into account all the views raised during the future consultation. The views will be used to help define the objectives for how Hoylake Beach is managed and all options taken forward for further consultation will be assessed in accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, checked against the objectives set from Stage 1 of the consultation, and whether the options are sustainable when considered against the findings of the Ecology and Geomorphology Study.

    Why has the council stopped managing the beach at Hoylake?

    It is not true to say we have stopped managing the beach altogether, as we are still carrying out a range of maintenance tasks. The Council can only manage the beach in a way that is approved by Natural England. The previous Beach Management Plan, which was approved by Natural England in 2016 expired this year and we are working with partners, residents and other stakeholders to agree a new strategy, taking into account Hoylake’s status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an area of international importance for wildlife and foreshore habitats.

    However, before we can formally consult on this plan, we are commissioning an independent Ecology and Geomorphology study so everyone can get a clear understanding of the evolution of Hoylake 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 and other natural changes. The Council took a decision to stop using glyphosate on Hoylake beach approximately two years ago and also decided to stop raking the beach.

    Why is the council singling out Hoylake because it manages its other beaches at West Kirby and New Brighton?

    Hoylake is different to those beaches because it is the only Wirral location where management has included the removal of vegetation by spraying. Management of other beaches will be to remove litter.

    All Wirral beaches have different identities and characteristics. Hoylake is special due its intertidal sands, vegetated upper beach and mudflats, and as a feeding and roosting site for waders and wildfowl. Hoylake is a designated Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Ramsar site.

    Unlike West Kirby and New Brighton, Hoylake is not a designated bathing beach.

    What can the council do to tidy up the beach?

    Whilst the future management plans for Hoylake beach are being developed the Council will continue to move sand from the sea wall to allow highway drains to work properly and remove litter by hand from the beach.

    Will the lifeboat still be able to launch if there is a green beach and dunes?

    We are in discussions with the RNLI as part of developing the new Hoylake Beach Management Plan and their ability to continue to launch and operate from the Hoylake foreshore will be a fundamental consideration in this process.

    The council is just trying to save money by stopping management of the beach.

    This is not a money saving exercise – indeed, the Council is making a significant investment in the work being done to help inform future beach management. In developing a longer-term plan for the management of Hoylake Beach, our primary consideration is that it is the most appropriate way to protect and conserve the natural environment in this special location.

    Will the beach become all dunes – can’t we have an area for recreation and amenity like at West Kirby?

    We are in the process of putting together a long-term beach management plan for Hoylake. Everyone will have the opportunity to air their views during the public consultation stage. All potential options will be considered.

    The Council will destroy Hoylake if it doesn’t manage the beach – what will this mean for the community and the shops?

    We are in the process of putting together a long-term beach management plan for Hoylake. Everyone will have the opportunity to air their views during the public consultation stage.

    Why is the Council investing in New Brighton and West Kirby and not Hoylake?

    The Council is investing time and money in Hoylake to produce a long-term beach management plan for Hoylake, which will be informed by the commissioning of an independent Ecology and Geomorphology study. We are also looking at long-term solutions to address long-standing highway drainage issues, which will require significant investment.

    What has caused the sand to build up so much?

    The beach at Hoylake has been building up for decades due to the natural growth of the East Hoyle sandbank. As the beach levels rise fewer tides are able to cover the beach and sandbank and as a result the sand is more susceptible to being blown inshore by winds.

    Won’t winter storms wash any dunes that form away anyway so what is the point of allowing the grass to grow?

    It is true that winter storms can cause erosion to sand dunes and redistribute sediment, but it is also true that winter storms and winds also drive the materials inshore for sand dunes to re-establish themselves and grow. Coastal processes can take a long time to influence beach behaviour and the council will look at the outputs of the Study to see how the beach is likely to evolve.

    If sea levels rise, will it bring back the lake to Hoylake?

    The Ecology and Geomorphology Study will consider the likely evolution of Hoylake beach in response to rising sea levels.

    I’ve heard the marsh is the same as that at Parkgate – what is the Council doing to make sure we don’t get another Parkgate?

    There are a number of clear differences between Hoylake and Parkgate in terms of location, exposure and beach behaviour. The independent Ecology and Geomorphology Study will look at the influence of coastal processes, sea level rise as a result of climate change, how the beach will respond to these influences, the form and types of vegetation that are taking hold and how Hoylake beach would evolve if left to develop naturally.

    Why can’t we have golden sands like we used to?

    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). Because Hoylake Beach is legally protected through several statutory designations this means it is protected under law from anything that puts those elements at risk. We know that the beach is changing naturally, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for it to be effectively managed in a way that would gain assent from Natural England. Additionally, the Council, as landowner, has a statutory duty to further the conservation and enhancement of the SSSI. Through the work we are doing and with the findings of the independent Ecology and Geomorphology study later in the year – combined with public consultation – we will find the most effective solution for managing Hoylake beach in the long-term.

    Why do we have to do what Natural England says – the Council owns the beach?

    Hoylake Beach is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This means it is protected under law from actions 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. Hoylake is special for its intertidal sands and mudflats, and as a feeding and roosting site for waders and wildfowl. It is also a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Ramsar site.

    Natural England is the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser and is responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. In order to act legally the Council must obtain permission, known as assent, from Natural England for any management activities they wish to undertake on Hoylake Beach. Additionally, both Wirral Council and Natural England have statutory duties to protect biodiversity whilst conserving and enhancing the landscape and to further the conservation and enhancement of Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

    Why doesn’t the Council clean up the rubbish that is washed up on high tides – it’s left to rot and becomes a health hazard?

    With the support of a number of voluntary groups, we do pick up non-natural litter from our beaches. 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.

    The beach at Hoylake has been a SSSI for years and the grass has been removed before, why has it changed now?

    The Council previously had permission, or assent, from Natural England for removal of selectively targeted species of grasses. That assent has now expired and early advice received from Natural England sets out that the same type of management would not now receive Natural England assent based on improved knowledge and evidence showing chemical treatment and raking is not effective. The Council has to find a new way of managing the beach.

    Why won’t the council prosecute the people who dig up the grasses?

    It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally damage, disturb or remove naturally occurring items within a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England is the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser and is responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. Wirral Council will support Natural England in this and provide information relating to illegal activity.

    Why won’t the Council prosecute the people who plant grasses and other plants on the beach?

    The release into the SSSI of any plant or seed requires the permission of Wirral Council as landowner and Natural England as the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser. Natural England is also responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. Wirral Council will support Natural England in this and provide information relating to all illegal activity.

    Why doesn’t the Council do more to stop people scaring the birds?

    It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally damage, disturb or remove natural elements or activities within a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England is the Government’s statutory nature conservation adviser and is responsible for enforcing laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. The Council, as landowner, also has a statutory duty to further the conservation and enhancement of the SSSI. The Council also has a responsibility to manage disturbance by educating and informing people using the beach that certain behaviours are not permitted within a SSSI, but ultimately it has no direct power to stop it. The Council will support Natural England in enforcing the laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment.

    My house is on the beach, can I move the sand on the beach away as it is blowing into my garden?

    You must get permission from the Council to undertake any work on the beach, which is Council land. The Council will need to know what work you want to do and will discuss with Natural England before granting you permission. If you undertake work without Council permission, you could be committing an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

    My house is near the beach and the garden is full of sand. Can I put the sand back on the beach?

    No, once sand has left the beach it cannot be returned.

    The beach is now a swamp with vermin and mosquitoes – what is the council going to do about it?

    The surface water drainage system in the surrounding area is more than 120 years old and was originally designed to be discharge onto the beach through the sea wall and be washed away by receding high tides. Since the 1980s, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and in places have risen so high they have covered over the pipes from which the drainage water falls on to the beach, causing blockages.

    A long-term solution is needed to address these issues, which is why the Council is currently in the process of trying to map the drainage system that currently flows onto the beach and identify alternative arrangements for the highway drainage system at Hoylake. This may include diverting the drainage system to come up with a plan to re-route this drainage, treat the flows to remove pollutants and contaminants and then discharge at a more appropriate location.

    This would be a significant undertaking both in terms of logistics and cost – but there is an acceptance that a long-term solution must be found. In the short term, more attention is being given to these drainage pipes being kept as clear as possible.

    The higher sand levels also mean that high tides often don’t reach the sea wall at all, so any water and other sediment from the road is deposited onto the beach is not taken away and instead is left behind. When high tides do reach the sea wall, at some locations the gradient of the beach means the water becomes trapped and forms pools, instead of “going out” with the tide. The trapped water does not percolate through the beach because at the coast the natural water table is also very high. This is a natural process, and it does not necessarily mean an increase in mosquitoes and vermin, however the Council is monitoring the situation and will take account of these views in developing the Beach Management Plan

    The water coming through the wall is making the beach a swamp what will the council do about it?

    The surface water drainage system in the surrounding area is more than 120 years old and was originally designed to be discharged onto the beach through the sea wall and be washed away by receding high tides.

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and in places have risen so high they have covered over the pipes from which the drainage water falls on to the beach, causing blockages. The higher sand levels also mean that high tides often don’t reach the sea wall at all, so any water and other sediment from the road is deposited onto the beach is not taken away and instead is left behind.

    A long-term solution is needed to address these issues, which is why the council is currently in the process of trying to map the drainage system that currently flows onto the beach and come up with a plan to re-route this drainage, whilst treating the flows to remove pollutants and contaminants and then discharge at a more appropriate location.

    This would be a significant undertaking both in terms of logistics and cost – but there is an acceptance that a long-term solution has to be found. In the short term, more attention is being given to these drainage pipes being kept as clear as possible to reduce the potential for flooding.

    The drains from the old toilet block must still be discharging onto the beach as the water is filthy.

    There is no evidence that this is the case. United Utilities have checked the sewers that connected the toilet block and have confirmed they have been correctly sealed. The surface water drainage system in the surrounding area is more than 120 years old and was designed to be discharged onto the beach through the sea wall and be washed away by receding high tides.

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and in places have risen so high they have covered over the pipes from which the drainage water falls on to the beach, causing blockages. The higher sand levels also mean that high tides often don’t reach the sea wall at all, so any water and other sediment from the road is deposited onto the beach is not taken away and instead is left behind.

    A long-term solution is needed to address these issues, which is why the council is currently in the process of trying to map the drainage system that currently flows onto the beach and come up with a plan to re-route this drainage, treat the flows to remove pollutants and contaminants and then discharge at a more appropriate location.

    This would be a significant undertaking both in terms of logistics and cost – but there is an acceptance that a long-term solution has to be found. In the short term, more attention is being given to these drainage pipes being kept as clear as possible to reduce the potential for flooding.

    There is always sand all over the road why doesn’t the council clear it up?

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and we know that sand can be blown off the beach and cause problems for local residents and drivers along the North Parade. We do address this issue when it becomes problematic, but we know a more robust solution is needed and this will form part of the new Beach Management Plan which is in the process of being developed.

    The gullies are always blocked and there are large puddles on the road when it rains – what is the council doing about it?

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and in places have risen so high they have covered over the pipes from which the highway drainage water falls on to the beach, causing blockages.

    A long-term solution is needed to address these issues, which is why the council is currently in the process of trying to map the drainage system that currently flows onto the beach and come up with a plan to re-route this drainage, treat the flows to remove pollutants and contaminants and then discharge at a more appropriate location.

    This would be a significant undertaking both in terms of logistics and cost – but there is an acceptance that a long-term solution has to be found. In the short term, more attention is being given to these drainage pipes being kept as clear as possible to reduce the potential for pooling or flooding.

    The sand on the road is dangerous for cyclists?

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake have continued to rise and we know that sand can be blown off the beach and cause problems for residents and people using North Parade, on two and four wheels. We do try our best to manage this issue when it becomes problematic, but we know a more robust solution is needed and this will form part of the new Beach Management Plan which is in the process of being developed.

    I can’t get onto the beach with my wheelchair / pushchair because of the sand – what is the Council doing about it?

    Over the past couple of decades, sand levels at Hoylake and also along the Wirral coast have risen and we know that sand can be blown off the beach and cause problems for residents and visitors. We do try our best to manage this issue when it occurs, and consideration of access issues will form part of the new Beach Management Plan.

    Will dunes help with climate change?

    Sand dunes are a natural form of coastal defence so if flood risk at Hoylake increases because of climate change and sea level rise then if sand dunes were present the risk would be reduced.

    Does a vegetated beach help with climate change?

    Some foreshore plants grow and die off over a season and can become buried by sediments meaning they do not decompose. This means they lock in, or sequester, any carbon dioxide that would be released through decomposition. Locking in carbon can help in reducing the impacts of climate change.

    Will a change to dunes and marsh bring more birds and animals to Hoylake?

    As more habitats develop at Hoylake this provides a wider range of ecological conditions which will increase biodiversity eg plants, birds and invertebrates

    What will the Ecology and Geomorphology Study say?

    The study will be carried out within a focused framework, but it is being carried out by an independent party and its findings cannot be pre-determined.