Liberal Democrat councillors in
Southport have welcomed the news that English Nature are carrying out a thorough
review of the controversial “Higher Level Stewardship Agreement” with Sefton
Council which covers the Ainsdale and Birkdale Local Nature Reserve.
This is the agreement which has led, in recent months, to residents voicing concerns about proposals to introduce ‘sheep pens’ in the dunes. The pens are intended to allow grazing to improve the habitat. Felling of trees has also prompted a backlash.
At the July meeting of the Southport Area Committee councillors unanimously backed a motion proposed by Councillor Tony Dawson (Dukes Ward – Shoreside Birkdale and Town Centre) which called for “a full, informed public discussion of the issues involved before progressing sheep pens and block felling.”
Subsequently, in late August, a group of
Southport councillors met with senior staff from English Nature and were given
the news of the review of the management scheme. Eight Lib Dem councillors and just one
Conservative attended the key meeting.
One other Conservative stayed for part of the meeting but left half way
Lib Dem councillors Tony Dawson and Haydn Preece represent the Birkdale and Ainsdale parts of the coastal area respectively, and were at the meeting with English Nature.
Cllr Dawson (pictured left) said: “I am particularly pleased that there is going to be a series of public meetings, including with dogwalkers. In my motion to the July meeting of the Southport Area Committee I called for a ‘full, informed public discussion’. English Nature are going a considerable way towards achieving that.”
Cllr Preece (pictured right) added: “There has been a lot of public concern about plans to introduce sheep pens and carry out some felling of trees. I believe there could have been more effort in the past by English Nature and Sefton Council to engage with interest groups. That’s why I am delighted that this review of the Scheme is underway.”