STATEMENT RE: Hilbre Island fire

Last week saw a devastating fire break out on the popular wildlife spot of Hilbre Island.

The local council have been dealing with cliff erosion on the island, however visitors and volunteers of the island were shocked to see that expanding plastic foam had been used, some of which broke down and was swept into the sea, as well as catching fire inside the cave.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust share the public’s concerns on choice of materials used to repair the cliff and want to ensure that Hilbre Island and the surrounding Dee Estuary is appropriately for wildlife. The Dee Estuary, including the islands, is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is a legal requirement that consent for any work carried out at a designated site must first be obtained from the Statutory Body responsible for nature conservation, Natural England.

Charlotte Harris, Chief Executive of Cheshire Wildlife Trust said:

“Marine environments around the world are under threat from plastic pollution and human activity.  The Wildlife Trusts have campaigned for many years for better protection of the seas around Great Britain. Hilbre Island and the surrounding Dee Estuary supports habitats which are home to important populations of wading birds and marine life such as dolphins and grey seals and we want to ensure that this important nature reserve is well managed well for wildlife.”

Wirral Council, as the owners of Hilbre Island have a duty to preserve its wildlife and habitats and ensure that their actions do not cause damage.  We are aware that a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has been submitted to Wirral Council and that a response is expected within 20 days. We have submitted our own FOI request to Natural England to ascertain whether the proper consents were in place before the work began. 

Cheshire Wildlife Trust works across Wirral, protecting wildlife and wild areas on land and sea. We will be working closely with Wirral Council to ensure that Hilbre Island remains a haven for wildlife.