A precursor to a planning application for the Lynemouth Bay project has been lodged, following members of Northumberland County Council’s cabinet signing off on £500,000 for the planning phase in May.
After decades of colliery spoil tipping, the erosion there has accelerated in recent years, revealing sites of historic waste previously buried within the cliffs.
The site was subject to a council land reclamation in the early 2000s, meaning the local authority is responsible for it.
The initial £500,000 is for environmental reporting, design and ground investigation works so it can secure the necessary consents required to carry out the main works in 2021, with additional sources of funding to be sought.
A screening opinion, in order to check if a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required and which precedes a planning application, has now been submitted to the local planning authority by engineering consultancy Royal HaskoningDHV, on behalf of the council.
The report states: ‘In summary, the proposed scheme comprises waste management works at four identified locations within Lynemouth Bay to remove the sources of the risk posed by the eroding landfill waste that is buried within the colliery spoil.
‘This represents a pragmatic option for the bay as the excavation of all colliery spoil and refuse waste from site to offshore disposal facilities would be prohibitively expensive.’
The document concludes that an EIA is not required for the proposed scheme, as it will deliver an overall ‘betterment’, ‘resulting in improvements to the landscape and visual amenity value, recreational value and ecological value of the area’.
However, it adds that ‘further (focussed) environmental appraisal will be required in support of applications for planning permission and a marine licence’.
The council previously reported that results of testing have now shown that in some parts of the site the buried waste contains low levels of potentially harmful materials, although the site poses a very low risk to public health.