Clean up under way after ship sheds timber off North East coast

The Frisian Lady lost 200 bundles of timber during the recent severe weather.
The Frisian Lady lost 200 bundles of timber during the recent severe weather.

Scavengers will be out of luck if they scour our shores for timber shed from a ship.

A warning by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been issued for people to not to attempt to claim wood washed up on the coast after the wood ended up in the North Sea 110 nautical miles off Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn.

The wood fell from the ship off the coast of Souter Lighthouse during stormy conditions.

The wood fell from the ship off the coast of Souter Lighthouse during stormy conditions.

But anyone hoping to get their hands on some free timber are being told it is likely to miss being washed up on the North East's beaches - with the materials to be ruined by the salty sea water in any case.

The agency put out the advice after the cargo shop Frisian Lady, lost a significant amount of its load while off Whitburn.

It says 200 timber bundles ended up into the sea during the recent severe weather.

Some of the timber was recovered at sea and the rest of the timber packets in various sizes between 2.5-3m long are believed to have largely broken up into individual planks.

They have now been reported as washing up on beaches between Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders, and St Andrews in Fife.

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.”

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.

The link do so is: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wreck-and-salvage-law

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 and 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 592 334.”

The timber was shed from the ship on Friday, March 2.