One of the few compensations of living on the insular peninsula is the fact that Wirral is surrounded by water . This gives plenty of opportunity of a bank holiday weekend to be beside the seaside, beside the sea (or the river or the shore…)
Unfortunately as you can see from the picture above the inhabitants don’t always seem to appreciate this . Nor indeed do their elected representatives and the contractors they hire seem to appreciate what they’ve been gifted and continue to abuse their habitat.
The past week as seen the story that made the national mainstream media and which reads like Enid Blyton gone bad and could have been titled Wirral Council Go Mad On Hilbre Island . Polyurethane foam to infill caves ? Yeah that’ll work! And inevitably when the foam ended up floating in the sea the cave was then boarded up and then according to Wirral Council subject to an arson attack. However according to Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces Facebook page all may not be as it seems…
Meanwhile our friends at ‘For Trees’ have been in touch with us to give an insight into the above incident and their wider concerns about how Wirral Council is failing to protect its precious local environment :
WBC are responsible for the highly toxic chemical fire that started in the cave they were ‘filling’, compounding the pollution already caused by the devastating decision to ‘fill’ the cave with toxic plastic foam.
Hilbre Island is part of the Marine Conservation Area.
This latest environmental crime by Parks, Coast & Countryside is on top of the Glyphosating schedules that continue to spread the highly toxic herbicide across this small peninsula. Every year a stretch of the North Wirral Foreshore, between West Kirby and Meols is sprayed with tens of gallons Glyphosate, dispensed from quad bikes. It has just been applied again, even though a Council decision to ‘phase out’ Glyphosate was taken weeks before at full Council meeting.
This assault on its own coastline is on top of the felling programmes that have removed thousands of trees from Wirral’s parks, verges, open spaces, cemetries and other Council-owned land.
For despite an agreement to review the practice of dismembering and felling secured by campaign group For Trees, a new round of WBC tree ‘works’ is swinging into action, removing the understorey and major limbs from trees around the perimeter of Birkenhead Park and from outside Meols railway station. This butchery has continued (illegally) throughout the nesting season.
Of the ongoing Hilbre pollution, WBC’s ‘spokesperson’ ( who is so confident that s/he doesn’t wish to be named) had the effrontery and arrogance to assert that “the work that is taking place at Hilbre is essential as it will strengthen support for part of the cliff face where movement has been noted.” I submit that the only movement that should concern us is movement of a human variety, clicking a mouse to sign off dodgy contracts, allowing contractors to deposit isocyanides and other plastic in the sea and on our island; allowing the subsequent arson and its abuse of the isalnd and of marine life to take place.
The ‘spokesperson’ added, without a hint of remorse, ‘ this work is being carried out by contractors and is taking place in three distinct phases, with the first phase – to infill a cave beneath the cliff – beginning last week.’
It seems, too, that containers of the toxic chemical Isocyanate had been left for at least two weeks on the island. Isocyanate is classified by HSE as a ‘construction hazardous substance’
Caves do not need to be infilled. never did and never will do.The geomorholgy of the island should be allowed to evolve, to change naturally, without any human interference. This is the most judicious, not to mention objective approach to marine and other conservation. If the Council is really concerned about coastal erosion it should stop poisoning the grasses that hold it together ( our natural coastal and flood defences) and consider protecting the island from the excessive human impact that can damage its natural features. What about closing the island to visitors for part of the year to allow the habitat to recover?
WBC is digging itself into a plastics -filled, Glyphosate saturated, log-strewn hole if it thinks that Wirral residents should continue to fund its reckless and relentless environmental clobbering. We live on a small peninsula. Looking after it isn’t about throwing money at it. Not misspending it would certainly help?
Hilbre Island is a Local Nature Reserve and hosts many vulnerable wildlife species, it is also part of the Dee Estuary SSSI (Site of Specific Scientific Interest) as is the North Wirral Foreshore. that is routinely poisoned. It has been recognised as a unique place for wading birds and wildfowl for hundreds of years and shelters important populations of wetland species, especially birds. It is also on a major migratory route.
There is legal protection for the wild life and penalties for disturbing breeding species.
Both WBC and the contractors are responsible for these crimes.The contractors and the persons who approved and signed off the work should be named and appropriate action taken against them.
Louise Stothard (For Trees Team)