Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Birse Inspection of Redcar Beach Rubble

Following our Beach Action Group complaints regarding the masonry left behind by Birse Civil on Redcar Beach, Friends of Redcar (FRED) was invited to inspect the beach by James Mead of the Environmental Agency accompanied by a Simon Kirtlan project manager of Birse Civil and Darren Edmunds of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (RCBC) on the 24th October 2013.

We made it clear from the off that we were under no illusion that the rubble that is turning up along the coastal defences is debris buried by Birse and now re-emerging due to the movement of the sea and the dissipation of the sand. We also presented them with a sample of masonry containing polypropylene fibres, continually turning up along the defences, from the new build.

Varieties of rubble mostly from the destruction of the last sea front that was buried and not disposed of in a landfill

Polypropylene filled masonry used in the building of the Flood Alleviation project.

The inspection covered the Coatham area from the Beacon to the TunedIn building and did not take into consideration the associated problem at the Zetland end of the beach. FRED recognise that not all the rubble is from the Coastal defences work and have maintained that large pieces of weathered rubble further out on the petrified forest and scars have been there for years and should be dealt with by RCBC.

(We will be working with the council to remove these boulders over the next year following our plans to schedule litter/masonry picks to specified locations and times). (

However, the debris next to the coastal defences is not tidal wash. FRED insists that this IS Birse's responsibility because the broken masonry was buried there by them and now they should 'hold their hands up' and bring in clear-up teams. This includes both the Coatham and Zetland areas of our beach that now resemble landfill and cleared building sites. FRED has requested that a channelled trough of at least 6x6 and probably wider, be dug into the sand along the Coastal Defences and that the sand be sieved and returned - rubble free.

Left to Right: (Just out of shot) Simon Kirtlan (Birse -Project Manager), Darren Edmunds (RCBC liaison) James Mead (Environmental Agency - Project Manager) behind a trailer full of debris collected next to the new defences within a two hour period.
During the inspection the Birse project manager rarely spoke or offered much in the way of an explanation. However, James Mead of the Environmental Agency and project manager over the Birse Coastal contract informed us that Redcar beach already looked "as bad as this when the work began". He went to add that much of the rubble was washed in by the tide. Both these claims were refuted by FRED as well as council employees whose work has included cleaning the beach for years.  James Mead stated rubble was "inert" from an environmental point of view and made it clear that removing sand to be cleaned, was not an option and that at best, Birse would do a couple more sweeps in light of the complaint.

FRED have accepted Birse's (EA's) offer to provide a couple of sweeps and have requested they come back in the Spring too and to provide dates for these actions. We are yet to receive dates for these sweeps or any information of follow up work carried out by them.

However we feels that this is wholly inadequate and stated this on the day.

"In light of the overwhelming evidence, the detrimental visual image and the safety issues to beach-goers, I can't help but feel insulted and even trivialised. I've used the beach for 25 years and for the best part it is now a hideous eyesore along the coastal defences steps." said Carl Quartermain, Chairman of Friends of Redcar. "I have written to the Operations Director of the Regeneration Scheme RCBC saying that this is just not good enough and that the council must do more to bring about a resolve.

"I not only feel a deep lack of concern by the Environmental Agency and a loud silence from Birse but also a reluctance by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council to bring the contractor to task for this unsatisfactory clean up. Redcar beach will be turning up this stuff for years and yet RCBC leaders don't seem to be forcing Birse to sort it out. Why?

"It's difficult to understand. If I was in a position of authority in the council I'd jump all over this. Our coastline is our greatest asset and what's happened is inherently bad for the town.

"In any case, regardless of the fact that this year was a chance to show off our new £30 million sea front and facilities, regardless of the fact that Redcar suffers economically and regardless of the efforts to bring in visitors by providing new events, the bottom line is that this is our home and our beach and our council is allowing outside agencies to come in and leave an unforgivable mess that will impact on us for decades."

Linked to

Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.One
Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Two
Redcar Flood Alleviation Scheme Complaint Part.Three
Redcar's Beach Rubble Problem Old and New

FRED would like to thank Anna Turley (Labour and Co-operative candidate for Redcar) Merily McGivern (Lib Dem) John Colling (RCBC Neighbourhood Maintenance team) Mark Skidmore (FRED committee member) for their attendance and support.

If you feel strongly about this issue and would like to be involved, below are some relevant email addresses. The RCBC have assured FRED that they respond to all concerns. is the Regeneration Operations Director for RCBC is the project manager for the EA is the project manager for Birse Civil. liaison officer for RCBC leader of RCBC is the MP for Redcar

Relevant councillors :-
Irene Curr and Josie Crawford (Coatham Ward)
Ron Harrison and Josh Mason (Zetland Ward)

If you would like to become a member and follower of FRED check out the following links:

or write to