RAMBLERS in Wirral have won a key victory in their battle to be allowed to walk along the Mersey opposite the Three Graces.
Following the purchase of the Twelve Quays site by Mersey Docks & Harbour Company (MDHC) in 1988, fences were erected effectively preventing use of the dock wall by those wishing to walk between the two ferry terminals at Woodside and Seacombe.
This action was challenged by local ramblers and resulted in an appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
That appeal has now been upheld and Wirral Borough Council has been asked to modify maps defining public rights of way recognising the existence of a footpath along the dock wall.
It is expected the council will consider the matter at the next meeting of the Licensing, Health and Safety General Purposes Committee on November 22.
However, a spokesman for Wirral South MP Ben Chapman said it could be some time before the matter is finally resolved as it is expected MDHC and possibly the ferry companies operating from Twelve Quays will seek to challenge the Secretary of State's decision at a public inquiry.
Mr Chapman said: "Having raised this matter on behalf of those members of the Wirral Ramblers who are also constituents I have been following developments with considerable interest.
"While there will be undoubted pleasure amongst walkers at this news I suspect the final decision on the use of the walkway in question is some time off yet. Any public inquiry will, I am sure, want to take into consideration the competing wishes of the walkers and the desire on behalf of MDHC and the ferry
operators for security in and around the docking and marshalling areas. I hope that a solution can be found that meets the wishes of all."
Arthur Cheetham, from the Wirral Group of the Ramblers' Association, said: "After more than four years campaigning, and with the active support of many other organisations, the Wirral Group of the Ramblers' Association and the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society are delighted with the favourable decision of the Secretary of State.
"We now look forward to walkers eventually being able to use this important riverside link between Woodside and Seacombe ferries with its unique views across the River Mersey towards an area of Liverpool coastline that has now been designated a World Heritage Site."
A spokesman for MDHC said: "We have received the decision and we are considering our response to it."