Almost £1 Million has been allocated to the Fylde Sand Dunes Project from the Environment Agency to improve the sand dune habitat along the Fylde Coast.
Partners Blackpool Council, Fylde Council and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust have been undertaking works to implement the Sand Dune Management Plan over the last nine years.
The partnership has now received approval to extend these works for a further five years at a cost of £999K. Blackpool Council led on the application, with support from officers from the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Fylde Council.
The project, known as the Starr Hill Sand Environmental Works, covers the area from Starr Gate at the boundary of Blackpool to Lytham Green.
Over the last 150 years, much of the sand dunes has been lost and today 80 hectares remains. The funding will continue to improve the standard of protection to nearby properties. In the long term, the sand dunes protect 493 properties from coastal erosion and eight from flooding. There are now approximately an additional 400 new properties which will benefit from the protection of the sand dunes in the future, given recent climate change predictions.
The continuation of the project will maintain the improvement of the designated sand dune habitat following the advice from Natural England.
Work so far has included –
This has led to 60-90m cumulative dune growth in places since 2013 and on average about 10m/year with each line of Christmas trees/chestnut paling and marram thatching installed.
The dunes are home to several internationally significant plants, rare invertebrates, and Priority Species birds. Sand lizards, the UK’s rarest lizard, have been successfully reintroduced since 2018 now that habitat conditions are deemed favourable.
Through partnership working, the project has led to a change in beach cleaning practices with no mechanical cleaning at the toe of the dunes. Instead, working with local volunteer Coastal Care groups, weekly litter picking is undertaken manually at the dune toe and in fenced areas. Natural materials are retained and bagged litter is removed by Fylde Council.
Volunteers have been a vital part of the project. They support weekly practical work parties, run guided walks, assist at events, undertake ecological monitoring, contribute to social media, and gain useful practical skills as well as social and mental health benefits from their participation.
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