A flush of cash for cleaner sea water

Sunrise over North Bay. Picture submitted by Ian Wrightson
Sunrise over North Bay. Picture submitted by Ian Wrightson

YORKSHIRE Water is set to invest in excess £40 million to improve Scarborough’s sewage network with the aim of improving the quality of the area’s sea water.

It is part of a £110 million package to improve water along the along 100km of coastline and 20 designated beaches.

The plan for Scarborough would involve the installation of giant storage tanks to prevent drainage overflow going directly into the sea.

Lee Pitcher, the company’s bathing water strategy manager, gave a presentation of a possible concept to tackle the problem at yesterday’s meeting of Scarborough Council’s Cabinet.

He said that the preferred option would be a combination of increased storage and UV treatment which cope during periods of high demand such as periods of heavy rainfall.

The move will be critical because new tighter European standards are due to come into force by 2015. Under the European Water Quality Directive beaches will be graded as either excellent, good, sufficient or poor.

Mr Pitcher said: “This investment for the coast is to make sure the water standards are up to an excellent level.”

And campaign group Keep Britain Tidy has predicted that the prestigious blue flag awards will rely on the water being assessed at an excellent level –with a direct impact on tourism if resorts lose the quality rating.

According to a council report clean beaches and bathing waters are a very important asset to the Yorkshire coastline providing a valuable source of amenity and recreation to many different users. The report said: “There are some 14,000 people employed directly in sea-side tourism in Yorkshire and it generates £200 million per annum.”

Currently the North Bay has been given an excellent rating but the South Bay is sufficient and Mr Pitcher said that the suggested improvements would “enable us to achieve the excellent standard”. He added: “This is a concept. Over the next six to eight months it will go out to tender.”

Cllr Penny Marsden said she was concerned about when and where the work would be carried out. She added: “I want to know more details and what’s going to happen.”

Mr Pitcher said that the final details were not yet available. He said: “We’ve not got detailed designs yet. It will be near existing assets.”

Cllr Tom Fox, the council leader, said: “It is a concept and things will change. I will ask that we are kept in the loop.”

Councillors voted to receive the report at yesterday’s meeting.