National Character Area 57

Sefton Coast - Detailed Statements of Environmental Opportunity

This section expands on the Headline Statements of Environmental Opportunity and provides further detail on each of the Statements of Environmental Opportunity.


SEO 1: Adapt to and plan for coastal change, working with coastal processes and accepting the dynamic character of this lowland coastline with its long wide arc of sandy beaches, muddy estuaries and coastal sand dune system, conserve semi-natural habitats and reduce fragmentation.

For example by:

  • Maintaining the function of geomorphological processes, allowing the natural evolution of the coast, as well as the dynamic process of erosion and accretion, to continue where possible, allowing beaches, intertidal habitats and the coastal dune system to provide a natural and cost- effective means of defence.
  • Planning for change at the coast, looking for opportunities for the creation of new habitats and ‘roll-back’ of existing habitats where the coast erodes, to maintain and enhance local landscape character, sense of place, biodiversity and reduce flooding to built-up areas.
  • Seeking opportunities for the restoration and creation of coastal habitats, such as coastal salt marshes, coastal flood plain and grazing marsh, to avoid any potential net loss of habitat from ‘coastal squeeze’, to enhance biodiversity and contribute to landscape character.
  • Promoting research in order to gain a deeper understanding of the changes that will take place as a result of climate change, and the subsequent impact on land use and movement of coastal and estuarine habitats and species, to inform future management needs.
  • Promoting research and surveys to increase an understanding of habitat and species management, using this to inform effective habitat management and to develop practical solutions to maintain and enhance biodiversity.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the nationally and internationally important sites and species, restoring and, where possible, linking the mosaic of coastal and estuarine habitats including intertidal mudflats and sand flats, coastal salt marsh, embryonic shifting dunes, mobile dunes, dunes with creeping willow, humid dune slacks, fixed dunes, dune grasslands and dune heathland and ensuring their sound management.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the exceptional biodiversity of the Sefton Coast National Character Area (NCA), with its network of Local Wildlife Sites, to provide multiple benefits including providing habitats for wildlife, reducing flood risk and enhancing the landscape.
  • Assisting habitats to adapt to coastal change and climate change, building in capacity and resilience in the face of climate change; reducing the impacts of fragmentation by providing corridors or stepping stones for the movement of species.
  • Maintaining and, where appropriate, enhancing the population numbers, population viability and distribution of nationally and internationally important species of plants and animals and key species which are characteristic, in particular, natterjack toad, sand lizard, wildfowl and waders.
  • Maintaining the natural functioning of the dune aquifer and the quantity and quality of water in the dune aquifer and dune slacks; managing the humid dune slacks and ponds to protect their geomorphological interest and enhance populations of key species.
  • Ensuring that conditions are suitable for maintaining and, where appropriate, expanding the populations of key wildfowl and waders.
  • Working in partnership across all sectors to deliver actions for a strong vision for the future management of the coastline.


SEO 2: Promote sense of place by conserving and managing the coastal towns and villages while providing good green infrastructure links and interpreting Sefton’s geology, archaeology and history to enhance people’s enjoyment of the historic environment.

For example by:

  • Developing sustainable visitor opportunities to coastal towns and villages, including the Victorian history and heritage of Southport, to promote the heritage of the Sefton Coast.
  • Providing green infrastructure and retaining green space between settlements, to provide multiple benefits including the provision of recreational green space, reducing flood risk, enhancing the landscape, providing shade and filtering air pollutants.
  • Maintaining and managing woodlands and other recreational green space for people to enjoy, looking for opportunities for woodland creation, including wet woodland in appropriate locations within green infrastructure in and around urban areas to deliver multiple benefits, while protecting sensitive habitats.
  • Maintaining the population of red squirrels through the application of appropriate woodland habitat management, including climate change adaptation measures.
  • Ensuring that new developments incorporate sustainable urban drainage systems and do not exacerbate flooding events, by incorporating permeable surfaces and rainwater harvesting.
  • Raising awareness of the role of natural habitats in water treatment, either through formal sites planted with reedbeds, or the use of green space within urban areas to absorb run-off from roads and hard infrastructure.
  • Deepening appreciation among landowners and the public of the links between geology, landscape, wildlife habitat and past land uses, such as asparagus farming, drawing attention to their relevance to sustainable development.
  • Raising awareness and increasing public engagement, enjoyment and understanding of the historic environment, linking to coastal change, allowing for the interpretation of coastal geomorphological processes.
  • Encouraging a better understanding of the value of the coast and its history, geology, habitats and wildlife through the provision of interpretation material and educational events.
  • Conserving sites that have been identified for their geological interest, enhancing their value for interpretation, education and visual amenity; where possible, providing opportunities to view them and to further research and understand the area’s geology.
  • Managing and maintaining the area’s historic environment, while recognising the rich archaeological potential of the coastline and inland mosses in particular, through interpretation of and understanding their significance in their landscape context.
  • Where coastal processes reveal historic sites, encouraging the capture and recording of historic and archaeological information for future study.


SEO 3: Enhance people’s understanding and appreciation of the Sefton Coast’s natural environment, celebrating nature and wildlife, providing opportunities for recreation and access, as well as areas of tranquillity, as a source of inspiration, enjoyment and learning for the health and wellbeing of local people and visitors while retaining and enhancing the features of nature conservation interest.

For example by:

  • Conserving sense of place by providing opportunities for people to enjoy and understand the coastal habitats and natural features of the Sefton Coast; and promoting interpretation to help visitors and local people gain an improved awareness of the importance of this coastline.
  • Maintaining the senses of inspiration and escapism that are associated with features of the coastline such as the flat, low-lying land which provides atmospheric views across the sea, and the mudflats, sand banks and dunes, conserving the sense of remoteness, ‘wildness’ and tranquillity.
  • Ensuring that tourism and leisure activities are conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner; monitoring and reviewing recreational and tourism use; seeking to minimise disturbance and damage to habitats and wildlife.
  • Promoting educational opportunities linked to biodiversity, for example at National and Local Nature Reserves, enabling people to understand and enjoy wildlife and the benefits of a healthy natural environment.
  • Managing recreation and access opportunities in a way that allows for quiet enjoyment, while conserving the special qualities and features of the area, such as at National and Local Nature Reserves.
  • Promoting active involvement through a wide range of volunteering opportunities and other activities to benefit habitat management, to increase community awareness and understanding and to provide
    other benefits such as improving health and wellbeing, social inclusion, learning and personal development.
  • Managing the access network of local walking and cycling routes, including existing and future coastal access provision, providing links between urban areas and the surrounding coast and countryside, and enabling people to benefit from the health, exercise and mental wellbeing that access to the natural environment provides; and providing green infrastructure as recreational green space for multiple benefits.
  • Ensuring that people have access to green space and green routes close to where they live, so that they can access them easily and enjoy the associated benefits for their health and wellbeing while learning about nature and the environment, and providing wildlife corridors.
  • Improving access to the coast for walking and cycling and for people with disabilities through the sustainable use of old railway lines, tracks and paths while encouraging reduced car use; securing opportunities for the public to enjoy the natural environment through the implementation of the England Coast Path while ensuring appropriate protection of it.
  • Ensuring that the promotion of access opportunities educates people about the vulnerability of the coastal habitats in the NCA and encourages visits of a low-impact nature which avoid any adverse impacts on agricultural management, landscape, habitats or wildlife.


SEO 4: Promote the sustainable use of the terrestrial and marine resources of the Sefton Coast, working with landowners and managers to improve biodiversity, improve water quality and supply, sustainably address flood risk management and contribute to landscape character.

For example by:

  • Working with the farming community to encourage sustainable food production in the coastal zone and hinterland, while delivering other benefits such as maintaining soil condition and water quality and conserving soils that sequester and store carbon.
  • Encouraging management of farmland to improve soil structure, such as planting winter cover crops, in-field grass areas to prevent run-off, permanent grassland with low inputs and buffer strips on cultivated land adjacent to watercourses, improving the infiltration of rainwater, to give benefits for soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, water availability, flood alleviation, food production and biodiversity.
  • Encouraging farmers to provide good habitat for farm wildlife and food sources for pollinators and predators of pest species, such as by introducing grass margins, pollen and nectar strips, and grass and tree buffers along watercourses.
  • Encouraging cultivation practices that will benefit wildlife, such as farmland bird species and wildfowl as well as pollinating insects, by adopting land management interventions such as fallow within
    rotations, overwintering stubbles, uncropped field margins, creating pollen and nectar strips and planting bird seed mixtures.
  • Managing the plantations for timber production where appropriate and for red squirrel.
  • Managing the field boundary network, retaining vegetation to form effective habitats for species such as water voles, providing links between wetland and other semi-natural habitats, improving water quality and preserving key landscape features.
  • Encouraging the sustainable use of water through water efficiency features, rainwater harvesting and the re-use of grey water.
  • Protecting and enhancing fluvial flood plains around the Alt and Crossens to sustainably manage water in the catchment, identifying opportunities to re-naturalise drainage as well as expanding or creating flood storage in relevant areas to manage flood risk, while supporting habitat enhancement for wildlife and reducing carbon emissions.
  • Encouraging improvements in water quality by working with water companies, farmers, land managers and developers to minimise diffuse and point-source pollution to rivers and the sea; reducing nutrient, pollution and sediment load to watercourses and encouraging measures such as buffer strips to intercept run-off and pollutants.
  • Enhancing the role of natural habitats in water treatment, either through formal sites planted with reedbeds, or the use of green space within urban areas to absorb run-off from roads and hard infrastructure.
  • Working with the local fishing community to promote sustainable fishing practices so that fish stocks and marine ecosystems are maintained and restored.
  • Liaising with new partnerships to maximise the onshore benefits of the offshore network of Marine Protected Areas.

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