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Council to join forces with fellow landowners across Sefton to tackle the climate emergency

Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service is spearheading a partnership approach with other landowners Borough-wide to ensure that action is taken on climate change.

Representatives from the Environment Agency, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Mersey Forest, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service and Natural England, amongst others, have pledged to work with the Council to identify joint projects and initiatives that produce Natural Capital benefits.

From street tree planting to urban greening and natural flood management schemes to habitat creation, the organisations have commissioned Liverpool John Moore’s University to map out opportunities for collaborative initiatives that will complement the wider Liverpool City Region’s Ecological Network Plan.

The benefits from such initiatives and adaptations include air and water quality improvements alongside a reduction in pollution.

Other potential benefits from this joined-up approach could be an increase in carbon storage capability and biodiversity across Sefton, as well as opportunities to explore natural flood mitigation and sustainable drainage solutions to combat further extreme weather events.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“We have longstanding relationships with our fellow landowners across the Borough, as part of the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership, and particularly in our approach to protecting the coast and managing flood risk for our communities. Reaffirming our commitment today to working together to tackle and adapt to wider climate concerns means that we can make a difference for tomorrow.”

Paul Nolan, Director of The Mersey Forest, said:

“Trees and green spaces provide a range of benefits for both the environment and our communities. By working together to deliver more nature-based projects in Sefton we are playing our part to tackle the climate crisis and provide adaptation measures to support the area as our climate changes.”

Extreme weather events like January 2021’s Storm Christoph, which impacted Sefton residents, and predictions around rising temperatures and sea-levels are all shaping the Council’s approach to tackling climate change.

Just last week the Green Sefton Service announced its intentions to adapt its land management approach moving forward, to better support the natural environment, in collaboration with community groups and businesses.

Three new trees planted by Sefton Council
New trees planted by Sefton Council in 2020/21 planting season

The planting of 3,230 saplings and trees in parks, woodlands and along highways during the 2020/21 tree planting season was undertaken with the support of the Mersey Forest and has contributed to the Council being on track to be net carbon zero by 2030.

Cllr Moncur added:

“Refocusing our efforts as a collective to promote nature improvements, rather than undertaking projects in silo, can only provide positive outcomes for both people and place here in Sefton.”

Green Sefton pledge to manage more outdoor spaces for nature to thrive and call on local businesses to offer their support

Design proposal of 'managed for nature' signage to be used across Sefton sites.
Design proposal of ‘managed for nature’ signage to be used across Sefton sites.

The Council’s Green Sefton Service is pledging to manage more of its outdoor spaces in a way that will boost biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

A new vision for managing Sefton’s outdoor spaces, from open coast and countryside to formal parks, sports pitches, allotments and cemeteries, will be underpinned by a commitment that recognises the way that people use and interact with these places, and how this can ultimately benefit the environment.

Green Sefton plans to develop its calendar of landscape maintenance to account for when certain operations should and shouldn’t take place. For instance, to better navigate bird nesting season and to avoid mowing grass at certain times of year to allow insects to feed. Many of these principles can also apply to residents’ own gardens at home.

Rimrose Valley Wildflower Meadow
Rimrose Valley Wildflower Meadow

The service has been working towards this approach in recent years, utilising new landscape management techniques such as creating wildflower meadows in parks. The incredibly successful wildflower planting that has taken place since 2019 at Rimrose Valley, demonstrates how working alongside its communities, the Council can manage spaces in a more innovative and environmentally friendly way.

As part of this new approach, a pilot will take place next spring at Victoria Park in Crosby, to redevelop an area of grass into a wildflower meadow which is ‘managed for nature’. The project will be supported by the park’s Friends group, a local business and schoolchildren will be invited to help seed the site.

It is hoped that, following this pilot, the concept will be rapidly rolled out across several existing sites in the Borough before targeting new opportunities alongside community groups and businesses.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“With the climate emergency at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must ensure that Sefton plays its role in tackling these challenges and coming up with ways to really make a difference.

“Traditionally our land management techniques have been driven by historic methods, cost-effectiveness and the perception that neatly trimmed and mown sites are the most visually appealing. But what we have seen over recent years is a real calling from our communities to manage sites for nature, to ensure that we are using sustainable methods and to create havens for not only people to enjoy but wildlife too.

“This desire aligns perfectly with the Council’s own 2030 vision which is underpinned by our efforts to tackle the climate emergency. Managing more sites for nature, be that through tree planting, designating no mow areas or sowing new wildflower meadows, will increase the amount of carbon we can capture, improving things like air quality. It will also offer a boost to many pollinators, helping to maintain the variety of species that we need to ensure our planet remains intact for future generations.”   

Employees from Vitaflow assisting with planting at Moorside Park
Employees from Vitaflow assisting with planting at Moorside Park

As well as seeking support from its residents, Green Sefton officers are keen to hear from any local businesses who might want to support not just the managed for nature sites, but any other outdoor spaces, that are so vital to the people of Sefton.

Since 2014, businesses have contributed approximately 1,500 hours involving 250 volunteers through litter-picking activities and maintenance at some of the most popular Green Sefton sites. Now it is hoped that businesses who are looking to ensure that they play a part in managing the climate crisis, can do so by sponsoring projects and activities through Green Sefton.

Cllr Moncur added:

“Business have made a big difference already, working in partnership with our Green Sefton Service, but as we face ever increasing concerns about the impact of climate change, we want them to join forces with us to act on this emergency. 

“What’s more, is that businesses could also help to support and give back to the people of Sefton. It could be helping a child to access a grassroots sport, a community group to grow their own produce or a young person to gain work experience in land management or horticulture.

“The support from Sefton-based businesses could make a real difference to our special places and our amazing residents.”

More information about the Green Sefton Business Supporter Scheme, and the variety of ways businesses can get involved, can be found on the Council’s website: www.sefton.gov.uk/greensefton

Green Sefton highlights the importance of the coast in managing the impact of climate change

Aerial image of Southport coastline
Aerial image of Southport coastline

Climate predictions indicate that over the next century around 350m of the Sefton coastline could be lost to erosion and localised flooding could increase if action is not taken now.

That is why the Council’s Green Sefton Service is taking note of these latest predictions for coastal change, ensuring that its development and management plans mitigate as many of these risks as is possible.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“Sea-level rise, increased storminess, changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures are all key factors in how the dynamics of our precious coastline could change over the next century.

“There is a very real risk that north of Southport at Marshside, our salt marshes will lose their ability to absorb wave energy as they gradually erode, and land drainage will also suffer.

“Our sea defences at Southport and Crosby will weaken and increased water levels may lead to more frequent localised flooding.

“Birkdale, Ainsdale, Formby and Hightown’s infamous dune systems could see increased rates of erosion and loss of vital dune habitats.

“The impact of climate change is not confined to textbooks anymore but could be felt by thousands of Sefton residents in the future if we don’t act now.

“That is why the Council is developing a new flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy and will continue to monitor the coastline as the lead representative for the whole of the north west region.

“We are also dedicated to undertaking habitat conservation works, alongside specialist partners, particularly on our dune systems to ensure the rare flora and fauna native to our coastline is protected.”

Image of crashing waves at the Sefton coast
Image of crashing waves at the Sefton coast

As the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), Sefton Council’s new flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy will take into account these climate change predictions of rising sea levels, increased wave heights, coastal erosion and more common tidal flooding.

Sefton’s communities can get involved in shaping this plan for the future as they have a further two weeks to submit their views to a public consultation. People can take part online at www.YourSeftonYourSay.sefton.gov.uk and have up until Wednesday 17th November 2021.

Flood and erosion events can affect not only those living in coastal and high-risk areas, but also transport networks, schools, highways and local businesses. They can also have detrimental environmental impacts on rare habitats and species.  

Sefton Council is dedicated to producing a management strategy that is fit-for-purpose and recognises the increasing challenges of the climate emergency and where targeted and risk-based investment is needed.

The new strategy will outline the clear roles and responsibilities of not only the Council, but other risk management authorities who work closely alongside Sefton Council including the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Highways England and the Canal and River Trust.

The public consultation includes the opportunity for the draft flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy, and associated business plan, to be viewed in full, followed by a short survey to gather thoughts from residents.

* The climate predictions quoted in this article have been put together by Sefton Council’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management officers using the UKCP18  climate analysis tool: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/approach/collaboration/ukcp/about

Sefton Council launches ‘I Pledge’ campaign to encourage people to reduce their emissions

To mark the start of COP26, Sefton Council is encouraging residents, businesses and partners to make a pledge to reduce their emissions.

Following the 2019 declaration of a Climate Emergency in Sefton, the Council is reaffirming their pledge to be net zero carbon by 2030 for all council activities.

People are being asked to go #OneStepGreener for the planet and make a small change. The pledge could be something small like walking more short journeys, using more public transport or eating local, seasonal foods. For those who can go further, they could install solar panels, eat less meat or switch to an electric vehicle.

Sefton Council has released a video pledging to take green inclusive steps for all the community and to protect the borough from the effects of climate change

 

 

Cllr Paulette Lappin, Cabinet Member for Regulatory and Corporate Services said:

“COP26 is a chance for us to stand up and make a pledge to the people of our borough on the issue of climate change. We can no longer sit back and do nothing.

“Not only do we stand by our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2030, but we pledge to protect everyone in Sefton from the effects of climate change, which as a coastal borough, we are particularly vulnerable to.  

“We have reflected on what we as a Council can do to protect our borough and reduce our contribution to climate change and I would urge everyone in Sefton to think carefully about one small thing they could do that would reduce their impact on our climate and keep our borough the green and beautiful place that it is”

 

The Council will be releasing top tips and making green announcements throughout the two weeks of COP26 tied to the themes of the conference covering youth, nature, adaptation and more.

You can find details of our climate strategy and action plan here.  

 

 

 

Aeration fountains ordered for Botanic Gardens lake improvements thanks to community fundraising efforts

Two aeration fountains have been ordered as part of the first phase of lakeside improvements at Southport’s popular Botanic Gardens.

Fundraising efforts

The installation of the new aeration systems will be overseen by Sefton Council and will cost £8,500. These costs will be covered by recent fundraising efforts from the Make a Change for Ben group who have donated their funds raised to date to the Botanic Gardens Community Association, a long-standing voluntary group overseeing maintenance and activities at the park.

At the end of August, Sefton Council met with members of the two groups and outlined ideas for up to £30,000 in improvements for the lake and lakeside area.

At the meeting, the groups agreed to prioritise the aerating fountains as the first phase, with the equipment now on order and works expected to be completed this autumn.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“I’m really pleased to be able to say that we are moving forward with the initial improvements to the lake area at the Botanic Gardens and I do want to pass on a huge thank you to everyone in the community who has contributed to the local fundraising efforts to date.

“I know that fundraising activities continue and the generosity of our communities that know and love this park is unwavering.

“Our Green Sefton officers have a long-standing partnership with the Botanic Gardens Community Association and will continue to work with them and all community partners to drive forward further improvements for the whole park. This is in line with our longer-term vision to source a multi-million-pound investment to ensure this historic site can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Nicola Cave, Community Campaigner, said: 

“We are absolutely delighted by the news of the progress being made to fit aerators in Botanic Gardens Lake. In particular we’d like to thank Cllr Ian Moncur and the Council officers for engaging so positively with the Make A Change For Ben campaign and Cllr Greg Myers for his ongoing assistance.

“We must also thank every single person who has donated to the campaign to make this a reality and cannot wait to see the new aeration fountains in action very soon.”

David Rawsthorne, Make a Change for Ben Campaign Founder, said:

“I am absolutely delighted that our campaign and Sefton Council have worked hand-in- hand over the last three months to secure local contractors to carry out works on the aeration fountains. Huge thanks to all the people who have got involved and helped to get us where we are now.”

Earlier this year, Sefton Council’s Green Sefton Service confirmed it was looking at ways to develop and improve the Botanic Gardens to offer better facilities for its communities as well as providing a positive boost to the local visitor economy.

Heritage

In time, it is expected funding will be sought from streams through organisations that support the heritage sector. Around £5 million is likely to be required to deliver the Council’s ambitious plans to transform the park.

The major proposals are at the very early stages of development and next steps will include launching a public consultation in 2022. This will bring together the views of residents, regular park users, visitors and the dedicated volunteer groups who support many projects at the park to keep the space clean, green and beautiful for all.

Anyone interested in helping to shape the developing project, or would like to volunteer in the Botanic Gardens, can contact the Botanic Gardens Community Association at https://botanicgardensca.org.uk/

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