At next a meeting of Northumberland County council’s cabinet on May 12, members are set to approve a budget of £500,000 for the planning phase of the Lynemouth Bay landfill project.
After decades of colliery spoil tipping, the erosion there has accelerated in recent years, revealing sites of waste previously buried within the cliffs.
In February 2020, the county council announced that it was committing to a multimillion-pound scheme to deal with the problem, although it said that testing has shown that the site poses a very low risk to public health.
A report to councillors explains that the £500,000 will enable ‘environmental reporting, design and ground investigation works to progress in order to secure the necessary consents required to undertake the main works in 2021’.
All of this will be funded entirely by the local authority, but ‘additional sources of funding are being sought to support the main works, and a subsequent report will follow early in 2021 to provide further details of the funding package secured for construction and seek approval for construction spend’.
Explaining the background, the report adds: ‘Between 1934 and 2005, the beaches at Lynemouth Bay experienced extensive colliery spoil tipping and illegal waste disposal, artificially extending the coastline towards the sea.
‘The colliery spoil beaches and cliffs are now being actively eroded, resulting in waste and hazardous material being exposed, raising concerns for public health and ecology.’
In the meantime, a range of other measures are being put in place, the council said in February, including air monitoring, the temporary diversion of the England Coast Path and continued clearance.
More signs encouraging people not to go onto the cliffs were to be installed, while volunteer groups who had been carrying out litter picks and similar activities were advised to leave the clean-ups to the council.
A total of £2.5million has been earmarked by the council for the scheme, and it is now anticipated that £1.25million will be spent this year and the same again in 2021-22.