A BEACH FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
There exists a commonly held, but unproven view that if Spartina were no longer controlled in Hoylake, the foreshore would “go like Parkgate”. Whilst it is true that Spartina was originally introduced near Parkgate, the environments and contexts are entirely different. Spartina is only one of a number of species here, and is far outnumbered by the dune pioneer species Puccinellia maritima.
Evidence suggests that a dune system with slacks, more akin to that between Red Rocks and West Kirby, or at Birkdale, would be more likely to develop. Where windblown sand gathers around obstacles, it accretes. Where there is a lot of wind, the sand accretes quickly, eventually forming dunes. Slacks also form, a haven for wildlife.
Would this impact positively or negatively on habitat for invertebrates and feeding grounds for the birds? Could there be limited and reversible field trials to find out what that might look like over a period of time?
Perhaps this research could be funded in part by the Burbo Bank Windfarm Community Benefit Fund? Could a managed dune and slacks system along part of Hoylake’s main beach evolve into an attractive, enjoyable area for both local people and visitors whilst simultaneously retaining areas of cleaner amenity beach?
Could we begin to return the beach to a more natural form and develop a more profiled beach which would gradually ‘move’ seawards as the current siltation of the Dee Estuary area continues.
A profiled and less flat beach would certainly help reduce wind blown sand reaching the promenade, the road and drainage systems, which in 2000 was reported to cost circa £70,000 to clear
To create a natural ecosystem and beach profile could transform Hoylake for residents and visitors alike in a positive way. It could be a nationally renowned ecosystem restoration project.
Boardwalks; hides for birdwatchers; viewing platforms for sand yachting and other beach-based events, cycle hire, all terrain wheelchair hire, even some colourful beach huts used by artisan entrepreneurs, attracting both footfall and revenue?
Could Hoylake have a leisure beach, not a pleasure beach?
A beach for those who love nature, who care about the environment... a beach that attracts a further abundance of wildlife... a beach that certainly does not attract those who would spoil the enjoyment of others through anti social behaviour?
Could we have a café, visitor centre or restaurant along the promenade, overlooking all this increasingly beautiful, naturally evolving landscape and important habitat?
If this happens, we would be better placed to encourage more ‘niche’ shops to Market Street, selling beach and outdoor related goods: clothing; birdwatching and sand yachting equipment; a modern chandlery; cycling and beach sports shops; books about the natural environment and wildlife; artists supplies...?
National visitor trends show that more and more people are choosing to take short breaks in the UK, seeking natural habitats, fresh air and specialist activities.
The opportunity is clearly there for Hoylake to become a destination for all these types of activities.