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COA1  Principles For The Coastal Zone  Strategic Policy

There will be a coastal zone in wirral. It's boundaries are as shown on the proposals map. Within the coastal zone proposals for development will have to satisfy additional development control criteria related to:

(i) preserving and enhancing the character of the coast, in particular, it's national and international importance for nature conservation and the quality of the coastal landscape;

(ii) directing development appropriate to the coastal zone to the developed coast;

(iii) provision for appropriate and environmentally sustainable tourism and recreation, and (within the developed coast) employment development; and

(iv) the need to improve the quality of bathing and coastal waters.

Reasoned justification :

20.1 Wirral’s coast is approximately forty-one kilometres long and, directly or indirectly, has a major influence on the character of the Borough. The coast is of considerable importance for nature conservation and also plays an important leisure and recreation role particularly on the north Wirral and Dee coasts. Much of the Mersey coast is heavily developed.

20.2 A number of principles have underpinned the definition of the Coastal Zone, namely:

- the geographical extent of coastal natural processes - the limit in the seaward direction being the mean low water mark
- the limit of human activities related to the coast, including industry, tourism and recreation
- incorporation of that land which is clearly “coastal” in character but which is not necessarily affected by coastal processes

20.3 The inner boundary of the Coastal Zone varies considerably within Wirral, reflecting the differing influence of these factors. The Coastal Zone is at it's broadest on the north Wirral coast and along the Dee Estuary. With the exception of West Kirby and Hoylake, which can be considered to be developed residential coastline, this is essentially undeveloped coastline where coastal influences and "coastal character" clearly extend further inland. This stretch of coastline is also important for coast-related recreation, nature conservation, archaeology and has a wide tidal range.

20.4 By contrast, the Coastal Zone along the River Mersey is more narrowly defined, reflecting the fact that much of this stretch has been developed for residential and industrial purposes and as a result the influence of coastal processes and coastal character does not extend far inland. This is particularly the case between New Brighton and Seacombe. South of this point, the Mersey coast is heavily industrialised with the exception of short stretches at New Ferry and Eastham, much of it with industries and activities which require a coastal location.

20.5 The Council’s central aim is the preservation and enhancement of the character of the coast. Much of Wirral’s coastline is of national and international importance for nature conservation. Along with other estuaries in the North West Region, the Dee and Mersey contribute to one of the most significant wetland habitats for birds in western Europe. However, it is the visual quality of the Wirral coastline rather than it’s nature conservation value which attracts many visitors, particularly to the Dee coast. Protection of landscape quality particularly on the undeveloped coastline is thus of considerable importance.

20.6 Stretches of the developed coast have considerable economic resource value as a location for uses which require a coastal location, for example, the Tranmere Oil Terminal, the Birkenhead and Wallasey Docks and the Eastham Locks/ QEII Dock Complex. There are also a number of significant development sites along the Mersey coast, including the former docks at Twelve Quays, at Cammell Lairds and at a number of sites in the Bromborough and Eastham areas which have a potentially important role to play in securing the Local Planning Authority’s urban regeneration objectives. This will also help to secure the protection of the undeveloped coast.

20.7 The issue of bathing and coastal water quality has been thrown into sharp focus by the need for Britain to comply with two EC Directives covering Urban Waste Water and Bathing Water. Both require the achievement of certain standards by an end date. In the case of the Bathing Water Directive, the Government is committed to achieving compliance by 1995, while the Urban Waste Water Directive has to be implemented either by the year 2000 or by the year 2005 depending on the size of the population.

20.8 The Bathing Water Directive requires that "identified bathing waters" be brought into compliance with limit values for specified bacteria. All four of the identified bathing beaches in Wirral met EC standards during 1994, with Dee Lane in West Kirby, meeting the standards for the first time in the four years the site has been monitored. Another of the beaches, Pasture Road in Moreton, had one of the best results for the whole of the North West Region.

20.9 In practice, further significant improvements in the quality of the Borough’s bathing waters will be difficult to achieve without major investment in improved sewage treatment. With the exception of primary treatment at the Target Road Sewage Works at Heswall, sewage is discharged from the area into the River Mersey/ north Wirral coast in an untreated state, apart from the screening of solids.

20.10 The UDP has a role to play both in terms of the control of potentially polluting development and also by identifying sites for sewage treatment works and outfalls and land-use policies relating to these matters can be found in Section 17, Section 19 and Section 21 of the Plan.

20.11 The UDP forms only one element of a package of measures concerned with the management of Wirral’s coastline. The Leisure Services and Tourism Department produced a Coast Management Policy in 1989 which concentrated on managing the recreational use of the coastline. The Borough Engineer’s Department also has a significant role through their responsibility for coastal and sea protection infrastructure, most of which is concentrated on the north Wirral and Mersey coasts.

20.12 Wirral Borough Council is also involved in the preparation of non-statutory, inter-agency, management plans for the Dee and Mersey Estuaries. The Dee Estuary Strategy was published in January 1996 and has been prepared on behalf of the Dee Estuary Forum by a Project Officer initially employed by English Nature. The Dee Estuary Forum comprises representatives from local authorities, the Environment Agency, conservation organisations and other interested groups. The aim of the Strategy is to achieve the "conservation and sustainable multi-use of the natural resource; providing a policy framework for integrating current and future uses and interests in the Estuary".

20.13 The Mersey Estuary Management Plan was published in February 1996. It was prepared by The University of Liverpool who began work on the draft Management Plan in 1992. The need for a management plan was agreed in 1990 by the Mersey Basin Campaign's Estuary Project Group, on which Wirral is represented. The aim of the Mersey Estuary Management Plan is "to provide an advisory framework for the future management of the Mersey Estuary within which existing interests can be safeguarded and development proposals evaluated, to enable the realisation of the fullest possible potential of the Estuary as a national resource".

20.14 The completed management plans provide important input into both the statutory and non-statutory planning and management of the estuaries. The presence of many different ownerships, users and other interests affecting the Dee and Mersey estuaries in particular could lead to conflicts in the management of the coastal waters. Advice contained within these management plans will be of particular value in helping to minimise these conflicts.

20.15 These management initiatives are now moving into the implementation phase, and action programmes have been prepared for both the Dee and Mersey Estuaries.