Warning over washed up timber on the east coast

Members of the public are being urged not to try to salvage timber that has washed up along the coastline of south eastern Scotland.

The wood was lost from a ship in the North Sea lost a significant amount of wood.

The cargo vessel Frisian Lady lost some 200 timber bundles during severe weather on 2 March whilst she was positioned 110 nautical miles east of Souter Lighthouse, off the South Shields coast.

Some of the timber was recovered at sea and the rest of the timber packets in various sizes between 2.5m-3m long are believed to have largely broken up into individual planks. They have now been reported as washing up on beaches between Eyemouth and St Andrews.

Local authorities that are affected are monitoring the situation along their coastline and leading the clean-up operations within their area.

Chief Inspector James Jones of Police Scotland is urging members of the public not to attempt to salvage any of the timber themselves.

He said: ‘Some areas of our coastline can be dangerous, with strong tides, deep water and rocky areas. Do not put yourself at risk by trying to recover any of the timber yourself – contractors who are brought in to clear the timber away have been trained to deal with such situations and have the equipment to do so, please leave it to the professionals.’

John Rodigan, senior manager for environment and building services at Fife Council said: ‘Fife Coast and Countryside Trust is leading on the clean up for us in Fife and teams are now deployed to look for salvage on the shore line. When any salvage is identified, information will be passed to our parks, streets and open spaces teams to organise its removal as quickly as possible. We don’t need the public to report locations to us or the police as the situation is being regularly assessed.’

HM Coastguard had been issuing navigational safety broadcasts to warn shipping of the lost cargo after the incident, however aerial surveillance indicates that most timber is no longer at sea in large concentrations and has washed ashore.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, all recoveries of wreck material (which covers any timber lost from a vessel at sea) must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. Failing to report removal of wreck to the Receiver is a criminal offence.

Alison Kentuck, Receiver of Wreck for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: ‘Our biggest concern is to make sure that members of the public don’t put themselves at risk attempting to retrieve any timber. The timber will not be suitable for use as a building material as it’s been saturated with salt water.

‘It is not a case of finders’ keepers, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency is continuing to work alongside the P&I Club and the local authorities to offer support for the clean-up operations.

‘If members of the public see any timber washed ashore, this can be reported to the Aberdeen Coastguard Operations Centre on 01224 592334.’