By Kris Jepson
Site investigations of a historic landfill are underway in Lynemouth, Northumberland, following an investigation by ITV News which found industrial waste and plastics were leaking onto the beach and into the sea because of coastal erosion.
Northumberland County Council has allocated £2.5 million to start the major remediation project, which is estimated to cost up to £7.5 million.
Cllr Glen Sanderson told ITV News "we have to get this mess tidied up and we will".
Watch @krisjepson's report here:
The first tranche of money costing around £500,000 is being used for site investigations on and around the cliffside of Lynemouth beach.
It involves construction firm Bam Nuttall carrying out borehole testing and trial pits in order to direct detailed design work on the clean-up scheme, which was agreed by the council earlier this year.
The team will analyse any contaminated hotspots within the cliff and then produce a 3D model outlining which areas need the most attention.
The council has also been carrying out a number of environmental surveys to plan how it will mitigate the impact of the work. Gareth Farrier from Bam Nuttall said:
"We’re doing a series of trial trenches. We’re doing a series of bore holes and effectively what we’re going to try and seek to create from pulling all that stuff together is to create a three dimensional model of the whole of the site that we’re going to be working on. Now that will serve us in two ways."
First of all we’ll get an idea of all of the physical properties of the area, but also it will allow us to pinpoint where any potential hazardous or contaminated material might be. In turn that will allow us to determine what the strategy is for remediating the area and it will also allow us to determine what kind of treatment we’re going to carry out on anything that needs to be treated.
The Council’s Cabinet agreed on funding back in May, to kick-start the clean-up work.
While the pre-construction activities will be funded entirely by the council, additional sources of funding are being sought to support the main work, which it is hoped may begin as early as April.
Cllr Glen Sanderson said there is a real commitment to sorting the problem out once and for all, even despite the financial impacts the Covid-19 crisis may have on budgets.
There’s been a lot of wringing of hands over the years. We decided we had to do something about this, so we’ve allocated £2.5 million as the first stage, of which about half a million is being spent on what you see behind you and we are determined to get this sorted out, because there’s no reason why Lynemouth should be second rate compared to Druridge Bay.
Cllr Sanderson added: "We have to get this mess tidied up and we will... we’re talking to all the key stakeholders and partners and there is a lot of sympathy for what we’re trying to do here and we will continue that dialogue with them and we hope very much that they will contribute towards it. We’re certainly going to be asking them very nicely if they’ll do that and we’ll take it from there. We don’t know exactly the final cost of this, but when we do I’m sure we’ll get help."