Liverpool TV

Sunrise Sunset
°C
Today
04/12/2021
°C
Tonight
04/12/2021
°C
Tomorrow
05/12/2021
°C
Saturday
06/12/2021
°C
Sunday
07/12/2021
°C
Monday
08/12/2021
°C

PREVENT DEATHS: West Kirby flood wall passed

PREVENT DEATHS: West Kirby flood wall passed

This is what the promenade could look like, Image: Wirral Council

A flood wall which could prevent more than 20 deaths in Wirral is set to be built after the plan was passed.

Wirral Council’s Strategic Applications Sub-Committee voted by five to two in favour of the 1.15km wide, 1.2 metre tall flood defence on West Kirby’s promenade, with Labour, and the sole Liberal Democrat and Green councillors in favour and two Conservatives against.

The plan has been controversial locally, with some claiming it will “ruin” and “destroy” the character of the coastal town.

A petition against the flood wall gained more than 1,100 signatures, while there were also 220 comments registered on the council’s website with 198 against the plan and just 19 in favour.

However, the committee passed the proposal, with a majority believing it was needed to protect life and property in the area.

Speaking against the flood wall, Anthony Clark, a local resident, said the promenade was built many years ago to provide a sea view and a sense of openness and that the proposal put this under threat.

He said the committee “must accept” that the plan would “ruin” the promenade and called on councillors to find an alternative solution.

Cllr Simon Mountney, who represents West Kirby and Thurstaston, agreed.

On the question of whether the promenade would be changed by the flood wall, he said “too damn right it will”.

Cllr Mountney added that this change would last for 100 years, the period for which the wall will sufficiently protect the town, and it would not be for the good of West Kirby.

He thought houses could be protected in a better way than the council was suggesting.

Fellow Conservative councillor Kathy Hodson said there were other ways of protecting people’s homes, such as residents having their own flood defences at their properties which seemed to work in other parts of the country.

She gave other examples from continental Europe, including in Venice where underwater sea defences are used rather than a flood wall such as the one proposed for West Kirby.

The Heswall councillor thought there was a better way that people could be protected given how technologically advanced the world now is.

But Cllr Stuart Kelly, the Liberal Democrat chair of the committee, said council officers had confirmed that other options were explored and discounted for various reasons, in the case of offshore defences they were seen as detrimental to biodiversity and wildlife.

Neil Thomas, representing Wirral Council, the applicant, said 70 properties were currently at risk from flooding in West Kirby and that over the next 100 years 26 people were at risk of being killed under current projections.

He said the wall needed to be 1.2 metres high to protect lives and property for now and into the future, adding that the plans have been approved by a national panel of experts.

Ollie Hope, from the Environment Agency, a government body, said that national funding the council had secured to fund the flood wall and improvements to the promenade was not guaranteed if there were further delays to the project, something the committee would have created if it had rejected the plan.

Most councillors on the committee were in favour of the plan, including Labour’s Steve Foulkes who criticised those against the plan for saying it will ruin West Kirby when there was no proof of this at all in his opinion.

Given the experts opinion that the wall was needed to protect the town, Cllr Foulkes was in favour of the proposal.

Green Party councillor Harry Gorman agreed, saying that many seemed to be against the plan because they thought flooding in the town was not that bad now.

But Cllr Gorman said the wall was not for now, but for the future when flooding events may become far more significant and far more likely.

 

Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter


Watch Live


Watch the channel on TV

7

Freeview

195

Sky

159

Virgin Media