Tuesday 25 January 2022

Wirral's Wild 50: February Worksheets

Here are the Wirral's Wild 50 activity sheets for February to help you plan activities for the month ahead. Build a mini wildlife pond, look for some early signs of spring and learn to use a key to identify twigs.

February activities

Things to do in February

Look out for buds on trees and blackthorn blossom

Look out for frog spawn

Learn about amphibian life cycles and metamorphosis

Build a mini wildlife pond

Collect some twigs and use a twig key to identify them

Build a nest box

Learn to use a key to identify twigs
Learn to use a key to identify twigs

Thursday 6 January 2022

Concerns About Housebuilding Plans on Wirral's Greenbelt

View of greenbelt land from Whitfield Lane in Barnston.
View of greenbelt land from Whitfield Lane in Barnston.

Applications are currently being consulted on for 7 'screening opinions and scoping requests’ submitted by Leverhulme Estates for building houses on Green Belt land in Wirral. NOTE, these are not planning applications (they will come next) but applications to agree with the local authority on what environmental issues and studies are needed to be done before outline planning permission can be applied for. This is purely about environment (in the broad term including heritage) and is not the place to question housing `need’ numbers.

Our concerns are those below, which anyone is welcome to quote in their own comments on the applications.

Links to comment on the applications are below, or you can email 
planningapplications@wirral.gov.uk quoting the reference number.

The closing date to submit your comments is Saturday 29th January 2022.

Concerns relating to all sites

  • The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must consider the cumulative impact of these 7-8 proposals on the environment of Wirral, including on biodiversity. Table 6 omits several planning applications in progress for large amounts of housing, especially in Bromborough/Eastham.
  • The EIA should examine whether there are any environmental `very special circumstances’ for or against building on this Green Belt and greenfield land.
  • The EIA must include impacts on all SBIs neighbouring the site. The current documents omit Harrock Wood (21/02384 Irby) and for the two Raby Hall, Raby Mere (21/02383 and 21/02386) omit Plymyard Dale and Bromborough Golf Course. The EIA must include impacts of supplying services to the land (Raby Mere in particular).
  • The EIA must cover suitable hydrological studies to ensure neighbouring ponds are not drained by falling water tables (Irby and Raby Mere).
  • The EIA must consider buffer zones needed to all the SBIs and Priority Habitats.
  • The EIA must consider ecological networks and the risks of breaking these (Irby).

Items that should be scoped in, not out

Climate change
Greenfield land, even under intensive agriculture, emits little carbon. Houses and their associated transport emit far more.  Ask for a well-respected carbon calculator to be used e.g. as used by the Environment Agency.

Drainage in relation to ponds and water tables (Irby and Raby Mere), and the effects on watercourses (Irby for Arrowe Brook, Raby Mere for River Dibbin, Barnston for Prenton Brook.)

Lighting - These are all relatively dark areas where lights will impact wildlife such as invertebrates, bats.

Further ecological surveys needed

  • Breeding birds, including farmland birds and barn owls (Irby, Raby Mere, Barnston).
  • Great Crested Newts as already detected: Raby Mere, Irby.
  • Water voles as there are reports from Arrowe Brook area and Dibbinsdale (Irby, Raby Mere). Otter can be checked in the survey, though risks are low.

Concerns for specific sites

  • 21/02384 Irby
Ecological networks, drainage to brook and of pond network, surveys needed for breeding birds, great crested newts, water voles. Include impacts on Harrock Wood and buffer zone to Arrowe Park. Wayleave for HVDC Western Link cables.

  • 21/02383 and 21/02386 by Raby Hall, Raby Mere
Surveys for breeding birds, great crested newts, water voles. Drainage impacts on Dibbin and on pond network.

  • 21/92377 Barnston Road Heswall
Breeding birds including farmland.

  • 21/021379, 21/02381, 21/02385 all north of Gills Lane, Barnston
Drainage impacts on Prenton Brook, erosion problems in Barnstondale (where existing erosion whenever the reservoirs are cleaned), more surveys for badgers, breeding birds. Effects on ecological networks.

Links to Screening Opinion and Scoping Request Documents

Please submit your comments by following the links listed below.

  • Land East of Dale View Close, North of Gills lane Pensby – up to 100 houses.



  • Land East of Thorncroft Drive, North of Gills Lane, Pensby. – up to 15 houses.



  • Land west of Barnston Road, North Of Gills Lane – up to 160 houses.



  • Land east of Glenwood Drive, Irby. Up to 310 houses.



  • Land east of Raby Hall, Raby Mere. 85 houses.



  • Land west of Raby Hall, Raby Mere. 40 houses.



  • Land at Milner Road/Barnston Road Heswall. 120 houses




Tuesday 4 January 2022

Transformations by the Route 2 Success Team

Certificates and cake for the Routes 2 Success volunteers
Thank you certificates and homemade cake for the Routes 2 Success volunteers

Over the period of the pandemic and various shut downs, volunteer work parties were initially stopped, then restricted to six volunteers per event as we opened up a little.
 Now we are back to full strength again, but playing catch up.

At New Ferry Butterfly Park it meant that habitat management had suffered neglect.
 Luckily the park has been helped recently by extra volunteers coming from various places, including nine Routes 2 Success (R2S) sessions held for young people who are not in employment, education or in full-time training (NEET). This course is run by an enthusiastic tutor, Jason Savage, from Wirral Metropolitan College. Trips to the park involved four students, two college tutors and New Ferry Butterfly Park volunteers. These students took on small manageable tasks which could be completed in an hour, then a break and then often on to a different project for another hour. They accomplished a multitude of jobs:

  • The damaged mobile allotment was disassembled to make it ready for repairs in the spring.

The damaged imago hut (left) and the repairs in progress (right)
The damaged imago hut (left) and the repairs in progress (right)

  • The scales of the Imago Hut roof were repaired, and a bug house was made and stuffed with bamboo canes.
  • Holly hedge, demonstration garden and Coleridge Glade were weeded.
Coleridge Glade before (left) and after (right) weeding
Coleridge Glade before (left) and after (right) weeding

  • The lime waste railway sidings were re-exposed enabling access. This path was closed during Covid. The new bare ground will be good for invertebrates as the wildflowers re-colonise.
  • Sweet chestnut coppice poles from Eastham Country Park were stripped of bark to make durable stakes to hang signs around park. 
  • The base of the water softening tower was re-exposed making more of this railway feature.
  • A large area of invasive two-flowered honeysuckle was cleared. 
  • Various bramble patches which colonised during Covid shut downs were reduced.
  • Fallen trees across paths and on benches from Storm Arwen were rapidly tidied up by the group.

Bags of woodchip and soil improver filled by volunteers
Bags of woodchip and soil improver filled by volunteers

  • 33 bags of woodchip and 32 bags of ‘soil improver’ were filled for spring sales.

Most weeks homemade cakes were made as thanks for the work completed and to keep energy levels up. On the last day a special cake was made and the students' names were added to a R2S flag on the cake. Students were given a thank you certificate.

Charlie, a volunteer from Routes 2 Success, (left) was asked to raise the new Green Flag. Pictured with Jason Savage, the course tutor.
Charlie, a volunteer from Routes 2 Success, (left) was asked to raise the new Green Flag.
Pictured with Jason Savage, the course tutor.

The park gained its 8th Community Green Flag Award this autumn and who better to raise it than one of the R2S team, as volunteer input like this is the root of the park’s success. Charlie was so chuffed to be asked to raise the Green Flag. Some of the students really came on in their confidence during these sessions. Thanks Hilary for leading the sessions and to other volunteers who guided the groups.

Monday 3 January 2022

Wirral's Wild 50: January Worksheets

Happy New Year! It may a time for making changes but we hope you will want to carry on with Wirral's Wild 50. In January, become a nature detective by learning to identify birds and spot tracks made by different animals.

January activities

Things to do in January

  • Can you find hazel catkins?
  • Look in the snow or mud for animal tracks and work out what has made them.
  • Learn to identify birds in the garden or school grounds.
  • Take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of January.

Common tracks and signs of British wildlife


1. Garden bird detective

2. Craft an owl mask