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NC4  Sites of National Importance for Nature Conservation  Proposal

The following sites have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Their boundaries are shown on the Proposals Map.

Applications for development with potential to have an adverse affect on the nature conservation importance of these sites will be determined in accordance with Policy NC3 :

1. The Dee Estuary
2. The Mersey Estuary
3. North Wirral Foreshore
4. Red Rocks, Hoylake
5. Dee Cliffs, Thurstaston
6. Heswall Dales
7. The Dungeon, Heswall
8. Thurstaston Common
9. Dibbinsdale, Bromborough
10. Meols Meadows, Moreton

Reasoned justification :

13.16 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are designated under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and represent sites of outstanding national value for wildlife, geology or landform. National planning policy guidance states that owing to their national significance development in or near an SSSI must be very strictly controlled. They are, therefore, identified under Proposal NC4 as sites to which Policy NC3 will apply.

13.17 SSSIs are formally notified to the Local Planning Authority by English Nature as biological or earth science SSSIs and special consultation arrangements apply to development proposals which are likely to affect them. Biological SSSIs are designated in order to set aside the best examples of the major natural or semi-natural ecosystems present throughout the Country so that their characteristic features and communities of plants and animals can continue to be maintained. Earth science SSSIs similarly represent the best, most typical or rarest examples of the landforms and geological features which they are chosen to illustrate.

13.18 Of the ten SSSIs currently notified in Wirral only The Dungeon SSSI in Heswall is specifically designated for its value for earth science. The other designated areas contain rare or important examples of lowland heath, semi-natural and ancient broadleaved woodland, intertidal wetland and saltmarsh, clay cliff and bank habitat, sand dunes with brackish dune slack and reedbed, herb rich neutral grassland, damp unimproved neutral grassland, tall fen, reed swamp, and fen pasture. Sites at Thurstaston Common, Dibbinsdale, Heswall Dales and at Hilbre Island (within the Dee Estuary SSSI) are also specifically managed as statutory Local Nature Reserves.

13.19 The justification for the designation and boundary of each of the sites identified under Proposal NC4 is set out within the notification document issued by English Nature when the formal designation of each site was confirmed. It is not, therefore, repeated within the UDP itself, but can be inspected during normal working hours at the offices of the Local Planning Authority and at the offices of English Nature. Despite their international importance, the Mersey SSSI and Dee SSSI also appear within the Proposal NC4 list. This is because they contain additional features which do not qualify for protection under international designations, but which are nevertheless still of considerable national interest.