Redcar and Cleveland Council facing £1.2m bill after workmen caused sewage leak at Saltburn

24.02.22 tankers onsite saltburn beach tyne tees
Northumbrian Water had to carry out lengthy repairs after a main pipe was damaged during work at Cat Nab car park, in Saltburn. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees.

A council is facing a £1.2m bill after a blunder which saw workmen inadvertently damage a main pipe and caused sewage to spill onto the nearby beach.

The incident in February happened during excavations for an extension to the Cat Nab car park in Saltburn, a project being overseen by Redcar and Cleveland Council.

Northumbrian Water subsequently had to carry out lengthy and complex engineering work lasting for several weeks, building a mini-treatment works from scratch and a dam to redirect water flow from the nearby Skelton Beck, and eventually installing a custom-made new pipe and fittings.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has been told that £1.2m is being sought by the water company from the council in order to meet its costs, although neither party has commented on the actual sum involved.

In a statement Northumbrian Water said: “We have submitted a claim to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to recover our expenses and are working closely with them while they process our claim.”

Sewage leaked onto the beach at Saltburn after a main pipe was damaged in February. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees.

The council, which previously referenced the involvement of a third party contractor in the incident, said: “This is currently being processed and it would be inappropriate to comment further on the claim or the incident at this stage.”

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is continuing to conduct a “live investigation” into February’s incident, a spokeswoman confirmed.

It can prosecute where environmental breaches have occurred with the courts able to impose unlimited fines for pollution spills or even jail sentences.

The council’s director for adults and communities, Patrick Rice, was previously asked to carry out an investigation into events, looking at the authority's procedures and processes.

This has been completed, but the findings have so far not been published.

In March the council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Councillor Julie Craig, whose department commissioned the car park extension, was relieved of her position by council leader Mary Lanigan.

Cllr Craig said she had been told she “ran the worst department within the council” and quit Cllr Lanigan’s independent group as a result.

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