‘Gilroy Scrape’, seconds out, round 1…
It has been brought to the Society’s attention about the recent environmental damage done to a piece of land that is home to wildlife and also lies within Wirral’s Green Belt. ‘Gilroy Scrape’ is located just to the North of Gilroy Road in West Kirby, adjacent to the Gilroy Nature Park and ‘The Langfields’ (a group of marshy fields). At the time of writing, we believe it to be under the threat of potential housing development plans.
Why is ‘Gilroy Scrape’ important?
We are told that ‘Gilroy Scrape’ is internationally important in the bird world, due to the high numbers of migratory Wading birds and Wildfowl that use it. Furthermore, It is Supporting Habitat to the Dee Special Protection Area and RAMSAR site, and is used by 2000 – 3000 Black Tailed Godwits (5% of the UK Population). In October 2016, the Scrape was drained via a ditch being dug across the local farmland by the landowner. Following an outcry by local residents and wildlife groups, the ditch has been refilled and water levels have begun to rise towards original capacity. A statement from Wirral Borough Council issued regarding the draining of the Scrape, indicates the Council has received a submission from an agent on behalf of a strategic land investment company. The company are seeking the removal of the field which contains the Scrape (plus the other adjoining land) from Green Belt protection, with a view to developing it for housing.
Wirral Borough Council has stated that the landowner performed the excavations that caused the draining of the area without their knowledge, or before taking any advisory instruction from them.
A previous report to Wirral Borough Council from MEAS (Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service) stated that ‘Gilroy Scrape’ and ‘The Langfields’ meet the criteria for designation as a Site of Biological Importance (SBI – now called ‘Local Wildlife Site (LWS)’). Furthermore, Natural England have confirmed:
“It looks likely that ‘Gilroy Scrape’ could meet the qualifying SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) criteria.”
The adjacent land in the area including ‘The Langfields’, make up part of the proposed site for the controversial ‘Hoylake Golf Resort’/housing development which will rely on planning permission including ‘Very Special Circumstances’, to remove the site from Wirral’s Green Belt. As Wirral’s District Committee for National CPRE, we oppose any threat to Wirral Green Belt and will be keeping watch on further developments, supporting other groups opposed to the destruction of ‘The Scrape’.
The Wirral Local Wildlife Sites Partnership (which includes Wirral Borough Council and Cheshire Wildlife Trust) is meeting in January, with hopefully Natural England in attendance. We understand David Ball, Wirral Borough Council’s Head of Planning and Regeneration will be attending specifically to talk about ‘The Scrape’.
We would urge anybody who supports Wirral’s wildlife and environment to contact Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England in an effort to try to persuade them to designate both ‘The Scrape’ and ‘The Langfields’ as areas with SBI/LWS/SSSI status. ‘Save Gilroy Scrape’ Facebook page has been set up by the local community to raise awareness about this issue and we hope this will harness the power of Social Media to further the argument for protecting these small, but very important areas of land supporting Wirral’s diverse wildlife.