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BIG BEACH CLEAN UP: Plans approved to remove toxic waste from a Northumberland beach


County bosses have approved multi-million pound plans to begin clearing toxic waste dumped at Lynemouth Bay, Northumberland.

Asbestos, cables, pipes and plastic have all been found at Lynemouth Bay, the legacy of years of coal mining and heavy industry in the area.

The problem was later buried under a layer of sand, but erosion means the site is now littered and could pollute the sea if work doesn’t begin soon.

“Lynemouth Beach has seen just dumping of waste and covering over with sand, in the hope that it would sort of last forever and wouldn’t be a problem,” said Glen Sanderson, the leader of Northumberland County Council.

“That whole modus operandi was flawed right from the start. It has been the subject of wringing of a lot of hands over the years, but we have actually got on with this [and this underlines] just how important we feel all the county is, but particularly this area that is so spoiled by what has been done previously.

“I’m sure that soon we will get Lynemouth returned to the way it should be and this is absolutely the right thing to be doing.”

Cllr Sanderson was speaking at a meeting of the county council’s ruling cabinet, the first time it has been held in person, rather than via videolink, for more than a year.
Since the scale of the waste dumped was identified in 2019, experts have found contaminants ‘with the potential to harm human health’, but have stressed they present a ‘very low risk’.

The county council hopes to spend £7million restoring the site, of which it hopes £2.5million will be provided by the Coal Authority.

But bosses have insisted the £4.5million to be provided by the local authority will be enough on its own to carry out most of the work, including excavating 150,000 cubic metres, most of which will be used to restore the site, while 25,000 cubic metres is taken away for disposal.

“If we go all the way, we would spend £7million,” said Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for Local Services.
“If we don’t, we already have the £4.5million, which will still do the job, but not to the way that we would like it done.”

Written by James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporter

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