AN ambitious scheme to boost beach levels between New Brighton and Seacombe has hit the rocks.
Natural England visited Wirral recently to study modified plans for Egremont foreshore put forward by John Lamb, who masterminded a beach nourishment scheme at New Brighton more than 25 years ago.
A ruling by Natural England that further studies of coastal processes were needed – in addition to a two-year programme of bird monitoring – convinced John that his vision of a golden beach at Egremont was doomed.
He said: "I accept that my proposals to create higher sand beaches at Manor Road and Egremont Ferry will not go ahead due to the concerns of Natural England – an essential willing partner to any potential scheme."
His original vision for Egremont involved the diversion of dredged sand destined for deep waters in the Irish Sea.
The initiative threw up a series of environmental and technical obstacles, forcing John – a 50-year-old teacher from Liverpool – to come up with alternative plans involving the creation of 'pocket beaches' and roosting boulders for the benefit of wild birds.
Natural England made it clear from the start that the only way to justify replenishment of the beach would be to improve wild life habitat.
And their concerns were augmented by fears that bringing sand back to Egremont Ferry could deflect a scour channel presently keeping mussel beds at the base of the sea wall free of sand.
There were further concerns that sand used to create a higher sand beach at Manor Lane could drift.
Said John: "In my opinion drifting sand would be minimised by the existing groynes and any area of mussel beds threatening would be more than compensated by an area of new rock fields laid lower down the shore."
John said he would only continue to pursue his sand and rock proposals if the shore sanded over naturally – which could take a decade or more.
He added: "I will however provide evidence to Wirral Council that dredged sand could be used as a buffer to reduce water depth and therefore storm wave overtopping at Kings Parade.
"Wirral Council engineers may encounter similar environmental obstacles but it is important that all options for protecting our coast are looked at."
Beach replenishment schemes are becoming more commonplace.
Last year Colwyn Bay imported half a million tonnes of sand as a sea defence and such was its success in coping with last December’s storm that there are plans to extend it.