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Sefton Council outlines action being taken and natural challenges with sand clearance at Crosby and Southport promenades

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton team have set out the ways they are managing the build-up of windblown sand along popular coastal paths.

In recent months around 90 tonnes of sand has been cleared from the path in Southport both manually and using a tractor.

Tractor clearance of sand built-up along the seawall at Southport is undertaken regularly and Green Sefton are working with Highways colleagues to investigate the use of signage to alert people to areas where windblown sand is prone to accumulate.

At Crosby, a specialist Telehandler designed to shift heavy loads, has been purchased to assist with clearance at that location. The most challenging section is the area from south of Mariners Road car park up to the Crosby Marine Lake area. This path was cleared during a scheme in 2018 but since then the natural shift of sand has resulted in the path becoming impassable, in parts, for some users once again.

Green Sefton officers have identified an alternative inland path for this section of the promenade providing access for wheelchairs, prams and bikes along the existing ‘Curlew’ cycle route. Signs are already in place and the new machinery will allow for more efficient removal of sand in the approaches to, and along, this alternative route.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “We are incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful and scientifically important natural asset right here in Sefton. It is a special location for our residents, as well as visitors, and our Green Sefton team are working at full capacity to ensure that day-to-day people can enjoy their time spent here. They are also prioritising longer-term development and conservation works to safeguard the coast for future generations to come while providing improved visitor facilities.

“I want to reassure our communities that we are doing all we can to ensure that our coast is accessible and safe for all, while making clear that some of the challenges we face are beyond our control due to our diverse landscape and unique natural environment.” 

Mark Shaw, Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service Manager, said:

“We face consistent challenges with the issue of sand covering pathways at various locations along our unique 22-mile coastline, and particularly at Crosby and Southport promenades.

“As many of our regular beach users understand, this is a massive natural process that has been shaping our coastline for millennia and will continue to do so for many more thousands of years. It can be exacerbated by windy coastal weather conditions and the development of new dunes as a result of erosion at other parts of the coast.

“We simply cannot work against these natural processes every day and people must expect that paths adjacent to a sandy beach are always going to be prone to some level of sand build-up.

“What we can do, and continue to do, is to undertake regular observation and maintenance to ensure that these coastal footpaths and cycleways are kept as clear as is possible for all users. This work is undertaken both proactively and reactively and as quickly as our limited resources allow. Where this isn’t possible, we work to identify alternative routes.  

“The reality we are facing is that often the sand is returned to these areas just as quickly as we have removed it, and on busy days our small workforce has to prioritises litter clearance and visitor management as it is impractical to undertake sand clearance while these areas are full of people.”

The recent warm weather has resulted in increased visitor numbers to all parts of the Sefton coast. The continued need for Covid-19 measures is having an impact on the Council’s ability to prioritise routine maintenance of its outdoor sites, such as sand clearance on coastal paths.

Mark Shaw added: “We would ask the public to be patient as we try to reach those affected areas and clear the paths as quickly as we can. We are exploring longer-term options to create new paths or alternative routes, increase staffing, invest in more specialist machinery, all while balancing the conservation needs and understanding that significant funding would be required to sustain this activity.”