National Character Area 59

Wirral - 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: Work with natural coastal processes to conserve and enhance the dynamic estuarine and coastal landscape, with habitats such as intertidal mudflats and sand flats, coastal salt marshes and coastal sand dunes, while addressing climate change and safeguarding wildlife.

For example by:

  • Enabling natural and dynamic coastal and estuarine processes to function, so that the coastline and estuary can respond to the constantly changing patterns of accretion and erosion, allowing the formation of intertidal flats, coastal salt marshes and sand dunes to continue.
  • Seeking opportunities to enhance the area’s intertidal habitats, including coastal salt marsh and mudflats, to provide effective defences against wave energy and enhance their natural flood defence mechanisms.
  • Monitoring and researching coastal processes to gain a deeper understanding of coastal sedimentary systems to aid the prediction of the likely effects of sea level rise, and working with partners to find ways of enabling these dynamic processes while maintaining the coast and estuary. Provide opportunities for education about coastal processes and the influence of climate change, to improve public understanding of the many features and functions of the estuary and coast.
  • Protecting the distinctiveness of coast and estuary, enhancing sense of place and conserving the internationally, nationally and locally important coastal and estuarine habitats and the wildlife species they support, such as the visiting bird populations.
  • Looking for opportunities to restore and create coastal habitats, such as delivering managed realignment schemes to create coastal salt marsh or other wetland habitats, to avoid any potential net loss of habitat from ‘coastal squeeze’ and to contribute to landscape character.
  • Enabling habitats to adapt to coastal change and climate change, enabling natural movement of sand dune habitats, preventing further fragmentation and ensuring their sound management.
  • Managing coastal cliffs, allowing natural processes of erosion where appropriate (including the slumping of unprotected soft cliffs around the Dee Estuary), to retain geological/geomorphological and biological interest.
  • Working with the local fishing community to promote sustainable fishing practices so that fish stocks and marine ecosystems are maintained and restored.
  • Working with water companies and industry to reduce the level of nutrients and other pollutants discharged into watercourses and the estuary and ensuring that sewage discharges are treated appropriately.
  • Ensuring that connecting links are provided between the estuary and inland areas, maintaining migratory routes for species such as sea and river lamprey, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, smelt and eels and making sure that their passage is unobstructed by physical barriers or poor water quality.
  • Maintaining and enhancing the mosaic of inland habitats such as wet grassland and coastal and flood plain grazing marsh, which is integral to supporting coastal wildlife. Maintain and enhance the mosaic of farmland in the coastal hinterland to provide for birds, including waders such as curlew and pink-footed goose.


SEO 2: Conserve and enhance the rolling countryside, punctuated by low sandstone outcrops, with significant lowland heathlands, woodlands and other wildlife habitats, while maintaining the long, open views over the coast and estuary that contribute to the varied sense of place.

For example by:

  • Maintaining and enhancing the mosaic of semi-natural habitats, including lowland heathland, grassland and wetland habitats such as coastal and flood plain grazing marshes.
  • Taking opportunities to link and expand semi-natural habitats, especially wetlands and lowland heathlands, thus creating strong habitat networks, providing corridors and stepping stones that will increase resilience to climate change by reducing fragmentation and enabling species movement.
  • Introducing appropriate management to sustain lowland heathland communities and to improve lowland heathland biodiversity, giving due regard to individual habitat features such as the patches of bare ground that are required by some species. Re-establish habitat links between adjacent lowland heathland sites.
  • Encouraging better management of woodlands and creating new woodlands, prioritising planting to increase, buffer and link existing patches of habitat.
  • Maintaining viewpoints where there are long, characteristic views, including those over the coastline, the Dee Estuary, the Clwydian Range and the Mersey; and maintaining the sense of inspiration.
  • Protecting landscape features that contribute to sense of tranquillity, such as the area’s coastline of coastal salt marshes, intertidal sand flats and coastal sand dunes, as well as its small areas of mixed woodland, sandstone outcrops, parkland and estates.
  • Managing development around the urban fringe and within rural settlements to enhance the distinctive character and countryside setting of the rural landscape.
  • Encouraging the use of appropriately designed sustainable urban drainage systems to manage water run-off at source, to help to manage flood risk and water quality and to increase biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.
  • Looking for opportunities to create floodwater storage areas on the Wirral (both on and off line) in order to reduce flood risk in areas located downstream and to provide other environmental benefits such as habitats for wildlife.


SEO 3: Work with landowners and land managers to support sustainable food production in the farmed environment while enhancing and strengthening the mosaic of farmland features including ponds, trees, hedgerows and red sandstone walls, to enhance biodiversity and improve soil and water quality, strengthen resilience of habitats to climate change and enhance landscape character.

For example by:

  • Encouraging sustainable food production to contribute to the economy, while delivering other benefits such as maintaining soil condition and water quality and conserving soils that sequester and store carbon.
  • Managing agricultural change to protect and support the Wirral’s distinctive character and wildlife habitat.
  • Encouraging cultivation practices that will benefit wildlife such as farmland bird species, including restoring or creating wet grassland habitat for breeding birds and providing mosaics of overwintered stubbles, spring-sown cereals, buffer strips and extensively managed grass for year-round bird habitat.
  • Protecting the area’s small woodlands and copses, restoring broadleaved woodlands and ensuring that woodland is managed sustainably for multiple benefits including carbon storage and climate change adaptation.
  • Seeking opportunities to incorporate hedgerow restoration and tree planting within farmland areas where they will improve ecosystem services that underpin food production; provide feeding, breeding and hibernation habitat for pollinators and beneficial predator species; provide stepping stones and corridors for wildlife; and enhance the landscape.
  • Conserving and restoring boundary features such as traditional red sandstone walls and hedgerows and hedgerow trees that characterise the landscape and support biodiversity.
  • Conserving and restoring the networks of infield ponds (marl pits), pond margins and pond landscapes, which are of historical and wildlife interest.
  • Ensuring that horse paddocks are integrated into the agricultural landscape.
  • Seeking opportunities to improve water quality in the area by working with farmers to minimise diffuse and point-source pollution, preventing agricultural nutrients and pesticides from polluting freshwater and other sources. Consider the use of buffer strips and trees to prevent sediment from polluting watercourses.
  • Maintaining good soil quality and preventing soil erosion through measures such as well-timed cultivations and access onto land by machinery and stock to prevent compaction and poaching, particularly on the most vulnerable soils.


SEO 4: Safeguard and interpret Wirral’s heritage, history, archaeology and geology to enhance the character of the landscape and improve people’s understanding and enjoyment of the historic environment.

For example by:

  • Increasing awareness of geodiversity linking to coastal change, allowing for the interpretation of coastal geomorphological processes, to raise awareness and improve understanding of the dynamic coast and estuary.
  • Deepening appreciation among landowners and the public of the links between geology, landscape, wildlife habitat and past land uses, bringing attention to their relevance to sustainable development.
  • Conserving geological sites and ensuring that significant geological and landform features are sufficiently documented and protected to enable the continued study of Wirral’s geodiversity.
  • Providing access to sites of geological or geomorphological interest, where possible. Provide interpretation of the geology and its role in developing the character of the Wirral’s landscape and further research and understanding of the area’s geology.
  • Where coastal processes reveal historic sites, encouraging the capture and recording of historic and archaeological information for future study.
  • Protecting and restoring Scheduled Ancient Monuments and other historic and archaeological features and increasing public engagement, enjoyment and understanding of the historic environment.
  • Conserving traditional farm buildings and other buildings of historic importance to ensure a better understanding of past land use and to retain evidence of the relationships between features for the future, while conserving wildlife associated with buildings, such as bats and barn owls.
  • Appropriately managing the historic environment for its contribution to local character and sense of identity and as a framework for habitat restoration and sustainable development.
  • Respecting local settlement patterns and building materials to avoid the loss of historic evidence in the landscape, while developing sustainable access to towns and villages for visitors, promoting Wirral’s history and heritage.
  • Promoting interpretation to help visitors and local people to gain an improved awareness and understanding of the key historic features within the area.
  • Managing woodland parcels and pockets of ancient semi-natural woodland to safeguard historic features.


SEO 5: Enhance people’s understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment, providing interpretation and educational facilities and opportunities for experiencing wildlife, with a strong network of green infrastructure, which will bring health and wellbeing benefits for both residents and visitors.

For example by:

  • Seeking opportunities to enable both residents and visitors to enjoy access to the coast and countryside and its associated recreation opportunities, by providing good facilities and interpreting the area’s natural and geological heritage.
  • Ensuring that tourism and leisure activities are conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner, providing interpretative and educational materials and facilities, while reducing recreational disturbance by careful management of activities, ensuring that sensitive ecosystems such as coastal sand dunes and coastal salt marshes are not negatively impacted by increased recreation and access.
  • Encouraging sustainable recreational and educational access to enable more people to understand and appreciate the dynamic estuary and coastline, the landscape, the historic interest and the wildlife, while conserving the special qualities and features of these areas.
  • Enhancing the rights of way and cycle route network to enable greater access for all abilities, promoting sustainable access routes that contribute to people’s health and wellbeing, improve people’s understanding of the area and link public footpaths and settlements.
  • Supporting the development of a successful England Coast Path that encourages better public access and is sensitive to the features that are found on or along the coast. Seek to provide the best and most continuous cross-border links for pedestrians and cyclists in relation to the England Coast Path, the Welsh Coast Path and other routes.
  • Protecting and enhancing the quality of recreational facilities and access opportunities for users of all abilities, particularly at the coast, country parks, Local Nature Reserves, golf courses and other outdoor sports facilities, while seeking to minimise disturbance, particularly to bird populations and designated sites.
  • Developing initiatives to encourage local communities to enjoy their local greenspace, to take action to improve it and to benefit from the recreation and health benefits that it affords them.
  • Promoting active involvement through a wide range of volunteering opportunities and other activities to benefit habitat management and community awareness and understanding and to provide other benefits such as improving health and wellbeing, social inclusion, and learning and personal development.
  • Connecting greenspaces with semi-natural habitats where possible, providing communities with recreational greenspace and wildlife corridors. Enable access in particular by people from areas where there is little public open space, such as north-east Wirral.
  • Providing networks of green infrastructure, thus creating a high- quality environment to improve resilience to climate change, support biodiversity, provide recreational and educational opportunities, enhance the landscape, create local routes for walking and cycling and provide accessible natural greenspace for people close to where they live and work.
  • Encouraging golf courses to manage their land sympathetically for the benefit of wildlife, spreading good practice from courses already doing so.

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