Meeting documents

Hilbre Islands Nature Reserve Management Committee
Thursday, 23rd November 2006



JE Green


SA Brown, GJ Ellis, GCJ Watt


Jean Quinn (for Cllr G Gardiner)

Council Officers

Dave Cavanagh (Ranger, Hilbre Islands), Dave Cowling (Head of Parks and Countryside), Josef Hanik (Ranger Service), Malcolm Ingham (Ranger Service)

In attendance:

Sue Craggs (Friends of Hilbre), Peter Williams (Hilbre Bird Observatory)


G Gardiner, A Taylor

Index to Minutes

Minute 1 - APOLOGIES

Minute Text :

As above.

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Minute 2 - MINUTES

Minute Text :

The minutes of the previous meeting, held on 20 June, 2006 were approved as a correct record.

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Minute Text :

Dave Cavanagh submitted the six-monthly Ranger Report for the Hilbre Islands Local Nature Reserve based on the objectives within the Hilbre Islands Draft Management Plan.

He highlighted the following points:-

(i) Maintaining the Level of Statutory Protection for the Site - The North Wales Hang-gliding and Paragliding Club were no longer pursuing a licence agreement with the Council to launch at Leasowe Common.

(ii) Maintaining Important Habitats - A new volunteer had joined the Friends of Hilbre and his construction expertise had enabled larger soil retention walls to be built along the west of Hilbre, protecting more of the ideal habitat for the Rock Sea Lavender.

The rangers and dog wardens had been involved in the rescue of a common seal which was taken to an RSP hospital for treatment and subsequently released back into its environment.

(iii) Protection and Restoration of the Historic Interest of Hilbre - A local builder had made a site visit to the Buoymasters complex of buildings to cost the restoration work that was needed and, based on his recommendation, a further visit with specialist contractors was planned.

The Probation Service representative had undertaken a site visit in order to survey the removal of rendering on the Buoymasters complex of buildings as part of the renovation.

(iv) Maintaining Current Use of Existing Buildings Consistent with the Character of Hilbre - J Hanik gave a short presentation on the Hilbre Islands Study Centre, the aim of which was to create an Island-based study centre that would utilise existing historic structures which were in need of renovation. Plans were currently being drawn up to change the present bunkhouse to a day room which could be used by school groups and volunteer groups and could be used as a meeting room, kitchen area and wet weather facility. This project, which was being led by the Special Initiatives Team, had been divided into different phases to allow funding to be generated over a period of time by different sponsors and also allow different aspects of the project to be prioritised.

Phase 1, comprising of new composting toilets and alterations in the bunkhouse to convert to a dayroom.

Several locations for the composting toilets were discussed by the committee and it was decided to pursue a solution with the toilets located at the rear of Fog Cottage

Phase 2, comprising restoration of the Buoymasters store for residential use; including installation of services, composting toilet, fitting out with appropriate furniture and equipment, repairs to boundary wall and minor landscape works, including fencing, would act as a catalyst for further phases, allowing the opportunity for contributions from partner organisations.

(v) Encourage Public Use of the Reserve, with Minimal Disturbance to its Wildlife

A dedicated seal watching group, consisting of members of the Friends of Hilbre, had been trained and was operating on various occasions, including Telegraph Station visitor centre open days.

The visitor figures for groups for the period January/September 2006 had recorded 129 group visits through the permit scheme (a total of 3185 individuals.

(vi) Promotion and Voluntary and Community Sector Involvement

The BBC had filmed part of their "Coast" series on Hilbre, which was shown for the first time on 2 November.
Friends of Hilbre were staffing the mobile information unit at West Kirby and Telegraph Station open days and also undertaking regular Task Days.

Minute Decision :

Resolved -

(1) That the report be accepted.

(2) That the Friends of Hilbre, Hilbre Bird Observatory, and all voluntary groups and volunteers, be thanked for their continued involvement in the various management objectives.

(3) That this Management Committee support the phased implementation of the Hilbre Islands Study Centre, as outlined in the presentation.

(4) That this Management Committee support the location of the new composting toilets at the rear of Fog Cottage

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Minute Text :

Sue Craggs gave a brief outline of some of the activities undertaken by the Friends.

Volunteers from the Friends had opened the Lookout Centre to the public on 8 scheduled occasions in 2006, advertised on their website. On Task Days and at other times, the centre had welcomed some 15,000 visitors. They had continued to work on Hilbre, building erosion walls, helping with painting and repairs, weeding and cleaning the flagged yards, and providing reception duties to parties of walkers and bird watchers. Funding from local sources had supplied tools and paid some of the cost of buying a multi-media screen and computer, which would be installed in the Lookout when the fittings there were ready.

The Friends had supplied information to the BBC when they were researching for the second series of "Coast". They were also on hand to provide material, when asked to, for leaflets designed by the Council, and enquiries via their own e-mail and website. Their duties included keeping in touch with the rangers and Council officers in charge of funding so as to provide encouragement and support, and a channel for public opinion. They welcomed the proposals for the Hilbre Islands Study Centre, which would provide toilets and a day centre in the Barn before next summer.

Sue Craggs reported that she would be retiring as Chair of the Friends next May and hoped that her successor would keep the Friends' minds focused on helping Hilbre to develop further, without harming its wildlife. She said that being a committee member was a worthwhile, though hard, job on behalf of a very special place.

It was moved by Councillor Ellis and seconded by Councillor Green:-

Minute Decision :

Resolved -

(1) That the report be noted.

(2) That this Management Committee place on record its thanks to Sue Craggs for her contribution as Chair of the Friends and her involvement over many years in Hilbre Island management-related activities.

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Minute Text :

(a) Hilbre Bird Observatory - Peter Williams reported that Hilbre Bird Observatory, which was formed in 1957 by a group of local birdwatchers, had received national recognition from the Bird Observatory Council. He reported that this was a major achievement and consideration was currently being given to ways of celebrating their 50 years involvement with Hilbre through a film showing wildlife on the island and a series of lectures. It was also proposed to host a North-West Region Bird Observatory Conference at the Thurstaston Visitors Centre.

(b) Capital of Culture - Sue Craggs reported that she had attended a meeting of the Heritage Forum with Council officers when consideration was given to a programme of public walks. She reported that, as part of the Friends' contribution, a list of Hilbre Island Open Days had been prepared, the details of which were on their website.

(c) Items for Next Meeting:

* Update on coastal protection issues
* Update on listing of wildlife pond site - of archaealogical importance
* Invitation to Mrs Margaret Sixsmith to make a presentation on her book entitled "Hilbre Islands in the Dee Estuary".

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Minute Text :

Friday 13 April 2007 at 12 p.m. at The Slipway, Wirral Sailing School, Marine Lake, West Kirby.

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(Minutes Published: 1 December 2006)