National Park plan off Wirral coastline delayed
PLANS to create a national park off the Wirral coast have been shelved.
Up to 14 marine conservation zones (MCZs) were due to be designated in the Irish Sea to protect rare species such as sea horses, puffins and dolphins as well as reefs and rocky habitats.
Three sites were off the coastline of Merseyside – Hoylake to West Kirby; Crosby to Formby and Southport to Blackpool.
Some of the 167 proposed marine sanctuaries around the English coast were due to be “reference areas” where fishing, diving, dredging and the mooring of boats would be banned.
But the plans drew fire from groups that use the coastline frequently including fishermen, yachting enthusiasts and seaside villagers.
Now the department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) has dropped plans to create the zones by the end of next year.
Instead there will be a six month delay before an impact assessment on the proposed sites is presented.
Richard Beynon, the environment minister, insisted the government was “fully committed to establishing MCZs”, but added: “It is important that we get this right. “
Joan Edwards of the Wildlife Trusts said: “We are disappointed we now face a further delay of at least 12 months when more damage to marine habitats will continue to occur.”
The Hoylake-West Kirby MCZ is designed to protect blue mussel beds on islands off the coast.