Capsized boat set to remain in River Wear as it is 'not regarded as either a danger or a hazard'

A capsized fishing boat looks set to stay in the River Wear after city bosses admitted there was no ‘legal duty’ to remove it.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 3:47 pm
Elegant II on the River Wear in Sunderland. Picture by Alan Liddle.
Elegant II on the River Wear in Sunderland. Picture by Alan Liddle.

The wreckage of the Elegant II has been stuck in the river at Offerton Heugh, near Hylton Bridge since 2017.

But, with the vessel posing no direct threat to water traffic, chiefs have decided against taking action as they would be unlikely to claw their costs back.

“The vessel is not regarded as either a danger or a hazard to navigation and is unlikely to become so,” said Graeme Miller leader of Sunderland City Council.

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Elegant II on the River Wear. Picture: Alan Liddle.

“While statutory powers to remove wrecks do exist, these impose no legal duty to act.

“To comply with legal requirements and be able to seek recovery of costs, the poor authority must form the view that the vessel is an obstruction or danger to the navigation of lifeboats, or be likely to become so, and this is not currently the case.”

Cllr Miller was speaking at last night’s (Wednesday, March 24) meeting of the full city council, the last one scheduled to be held before May’s local elections, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

He was responding to a question from Alan Liddle, who has previously campaigned for the boat’s removal.

The vessel’s owner was reportedly informed about the situation in October 2017, when it was first reported, but it remains in situ.

City leaders and other authorities have previously been urged to remove it over safety concerns, particularly fears for youngsters and others exploring the wreck.

In June 2018 the Port of Sunderland said that the ship is the responsibility of the owner and poses no risk to other river traffic or marine pollution.

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