Port of Tyne to lead cleanup project

Clearwater vessel The Clearwater vessel removes debris from the Port of Tyne. Credit: Port of Tyne
Industry Database

The Port of Tyne has secured the future of a project which enables the removal of around 400t of debris from the River Tyne every year.

Set up 20 years ago by four North East UK councils and the Port of Tyne, the Clean Tyne Project has the remit to remove debris from the river and improve the water quality. The port will now take full responsibility for the project after its council funding was withdrawn. It will spend around GB£100k in operating costs each year in deploying the project’s Clearwater vessel to remove debris that represents a danger to navigation between Blaydon and the piers.

Steven Clapperton, Port of Tyne harbour master director of health and safety, environment and marine, said the port hopes “to be able to drive efficiencies and continue to operate the Clearwater debris collection vessel as effectively as possible.”

Funding withdrawal

Though the project was originally set up between the four councils of Gateshead, Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, alongside the Port of Tyne, South Tyneside decided 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 only has statutory responsibility for the safety of navigation, will take over from Gateshead Council in leadership of the project and plans to ask all four councils to be involved on non-financial basis to uphold the project’s remit to keep the river clean.

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.

The port aims to engage with other partners including the Environment Agency and Tyne Rivers Trust to ensure the sustainability of the project.

A Port of Tyne-funded refit of the Clearwater vessel, first launched in 2005, was carried out in 2013.


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