#SavingTheMersey

The River Mersey is by far a country mile one of the most recognisable, influential and iconic rivers on the planet holding host to the 3 Queens, the Titanic, “Ferry Across The Mersey” and of course the world famous Liverpool Water Front.

BTG at New Ferry copy
Black-tailed Godwits feeding at New Ferry. A small stretch of intertidal zone close to the mouth of the estuary which can hold over 900 waders at low tide.

The River Mersey has seen many changes over the centuries ever since the monks of Birkenhead Priory in 1150c first set sail across its life giving waters. From being an environmental dead zone during the Industrial revolution to undergoing one of the biggest clean ups in European history as in 1985 the government back a 25 year plan called the “Mersey Basin Clean-up” with its primary objective to “clean up the entire Mersey river system”. The plan worked and by 2009 it was announced that the Mersey was “cleaner than at any time since the industrial revolutions”. In total an estimated £100 Million was spent on the Mersey Basin Clean-up.

8 Whimbrel copy.jpg
Whimbrel is one of the many migrant birds that’ll have their migration route disrupted as a result of the Mersey Barrier.

Thanks to the clean-up campaign the Mersey is currently one of the cleanest rivers in Europe which is to date is holding such a variety of wildlife which 25 years ago would have been unthinkable: from the return of Salmon, to breeding Otters and its globally important bird numbers. It’s hard believe that after all that time, effort and money that was put into the Mersey to clean it up and making it into an internationally important site for birds the government is now proposing to investigate generating power using a barrier to harness the Mersey’s huge tidal range.

Calling Lapwing Patch_edited-1
In the past 25 years breeding Lapwing numbers have fell by over 50%. The Mersey is nationally import for these iconic birds.

Renewable energy resources such as tidal is something that all governments should be investing more money and research into. The energy produced by the barrier if it gets the go ahead might produce low carbon dioxide levels which is good for the environment, but it wouldn’t be “clean” renewable energy. By having the barrier installed across the mouth of the Mersey it’ll cause the destruction of the intertidal feeding zones further up river which in 2015 sustained over 100,000 birds consisting of native waterfowl and waders (Teal, Redshank, Wigeon, Dunlin etc.).

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Over 3,000 wintering Teal were counted in 2015 making the Mersey nationally important for the UK’s smallest duck.

The installation of the barrier would result in an environmental catastrophe with the loss of one of the most important intertidal zones in Europe which hold in 2015 hosted over 68000 Dunlin, 2400 Black-tailed Godwit, 10500 Shellduck, 1400 Ringed Plover, 3100 Redshank, 2100 Curlew and 3000 Teal. Such numbers of these estuarine species our of either international or national importance. By having the barrier put in place it’ll wreak havoc amongst these species when returning back their breeding grounds, the sheer quantity of displaced birds will be unprecedented and the surrounding estuaries (Dee and Ribble) will be unable to handle a sudden influx.

The one shot copy
The Mersey is the most important site for Dunlin in the UK with a count of 68,000 in 2015.

Tidal Power is something which has been proposed for the Mersey since the 1980’s but it hasn’t been until now that it’s really been properly considered and is coming very close to becoming reality. There have been many studies carried out by government agencies and corporations such as Peel Holdings on Tidal energy for the Mersey that have concluded that it was not economically viable.

Ringed Plover at Hilbre copy
Ringed Plover is another species which the Mersey is internationally important for with over 1,400 counted in 2015 and is a species which has also been increasing on the Mersey over the past couple of years.

The Mersey Estuary has been designated a SPA (Special Protection Area) under the EU Birds Directive and a RAMSAR site because it is internationally importance for birds. Therefore if a barrier is to be built compensatory habitat must be provided for the displaced wildlife. Providing new intertidal mud is almost impossible and so with the placement of the Mersey Barrier it’ll be impossible to re-create habitat for tens of thousands of birds which call the Mersey home.

With the Mersey having being transformed from an environmental dead zone to having under gone one of the biggest clean-up projects in Europe to now being internationally important for Shellduck, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Black-Tailed Godwit and Redshank along with being nationally important for Teal, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Ruff and Curlew, the idea of a Mersey Barrier shouldn’t of even been thought of as the environmental impact would be too much of an ecological loss.

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The Mersey is internationally important for Shelduck with over 10,500 counted in 2015.

Below I’ve placed a link to a Thunderclap which I’ve set up and called #SavingTheMersey to show that there is opposition to the barrier which has had very little to no publicity, therefore hardly anyone knows about the plans which are now edging ever closer to becoming reality. By supporting my Thunderclap you’re taking a stand and showing your support for Mother Nature and being a voice for bird species which in last couple of decades have seen there populations decrease as far as 50% for some. If the Mersey Barrier gets the go ahead then it’ll be another battle lost in protecting what’s left of the UK’s breath taking wildlife and this is why we need as many people as possible to sign this Thunderclap and silence the Mersey Barrier.

Europe has already lost over 421 million birds in the last 30 years. Lets not add to that.

#SavingTheMersey

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