March 15 2019 @ 10:28 by Richard Dawson
Set up 20 years ago – originally between the four councils of Gateshead, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside and the Port of Tyne – the Clean Tyne Project has the remit to remove debris from the river and improve the water quality.
South Tyneside made the strategic decision to end its funding for the project in 2015, followed by Newcastle in 2018 and finally Gateshead and North Tyneside in February 2019.
The Port of Tyne which has statutory responsibility for only the safety of navigation will take over from Gateshead Council – to lead the project and plans to ask all four councils to be involved on non-financial basis to uphold the projects remit to keep the river clean.
Steven Clapperton, Port of Tyne harbour master director of health and safety, environment and marine, said: “For all we are responsible for maintaining only the safety of navigation we hope to be able to drive efficiencies and continue to operate the Clearwater debris collection vessel as effectively as possible.”
The Clean Tyne project works to remove around 400 tonnes of debris from the river between Blaydon and the piers each year.
The Port will invest around £100k in operating costs each year in deploying the Clearwater vessel – removing debris that represents a danger to navigation.
Gateshead Council will transfer assets from the project to the Port of Tyne including leasing of a temporary storage facility near South Shore Road in Gateshead where collected debris is stored and recycled.
“We hope to open up discussions with other partners including the Environment Agency and Tyne Rivers Trust to ensure that the Clean Tyne Project remains a valuable initiative long in to the future”, adds Steven Clapperton.
Matt Beeton, Port of Tyne, chief executive officer, adds: “While the Port is not specifically responsible for the cleanliness of the river, its inlets and beaches the Port places its obligations to stakeholders in providing a vibrant and sustainable port for the benefit of the region very highly.
“It is fantastic news that we have agreed a way forward so we are able to continue to operate the Clearwater, without which the viability of the project was undoubtedly in jeopardy.”