WIRRAL’S Hilbre Island is set to be given vital protection for its wildlife as part of a new Government scheme.
The islands, which are off the coast of West Kirby, could receive a new level of protection as a proposed ‘Marine Conservation Zone’ (MCZ) was announced last week.
And Hilbre is one of just four islands in the Irish Sea to be among those set to have the new status which would secure the future of wildlife living on the islands.
However, The Wildlife Trust for Cheshire & Wirral has called the Government's proposed designation of Marine Conservation Zones elsewhere in the UK a 'drop in the ocean' after only around one in four of an original 127 proposed MCZs were shortlisted in 2013.
The conservation charity has backed protection of the Hilbre Island Group in the Dee estuary which acts as a vital stopover for migratory birds covered with richly diverse rock pools and an important colony of grey seals.
The island group is hugely popular with visitors to West Kirby, with thousands making the low-tide walk across the sandbanks to the islands every summer.
Jan Shone, from the Wildlife Trust for Cheshire & Wirral, said: “We’re delighted that the Hilbre Islands have been justly recognised for their wildlife and rich marine habitats, especially as we have been leading family trips to the estuary every summer for many years.
“The MCZ status, once complete, will help to safeguard the islands from any potentially damaging activities, securing the long-term future for the grey seals, marine life and birds that make the islands their home.”
And North West Wildlife Trusts Marine Conservation Officer Lindsay Sullivan said it was important to protect come of the most endangered species and their habitats.
She said: “The recommended MCZs were chosen after two years of hard work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million.
“Marine Conservation Zones should protect the species and habitats found within them from the most damaging and degrading of activities whilst mostly allowing sustainable activity to continue. The network was designed to ensure that we don’t end up with isolated and vulnerable sites and to ensure that the wide range of marine habitats found in UK seas are protected.
“Failure to designate all but a very small proportion of sites recommended in the UK will mean that we lack the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need to recover.”
For information visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/