MPs call for review of River Tees dredging work

Following the mass deaths of shellfish, an urgent review of dredging in the River Tees is needed, a cross-party parliamentary committee said.

Sir Robert Goodwill MP facebook

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee also called for more research into the die-offs in 2021.

The MPs want an expert panel to examine conflicting theories about the cause of the deaths and a fund set up to help fishers whose catches have reduced.

Sir Robert Goodwill, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, has now written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Thérèse Coffey with the committee’s interim findings.

In the letter, he called for:

  • More research into the causes of the die-offs – including an investigation into where pyridine may have come from and sampling of the Tees Estuary to create a map of potential pyridine sources,
  • Collaboration in testing between government agencies and the wider scientific communit,
  • The appointment of an expert independent panel to review all the evidence,
  • An urgent review of dredging in the Tees – to be carried out by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO),
  • The MMO should explore what steps could be taken to improve dredging, including: preventing sediment escaping, considering changes to the depth and intensity of dredging, whether new techniques are needed, and where and how dredged material is disposed of,
  • MMO must ensure that all the current conditions on its licence are met and should include pyridine in the testing as part of any future licence approval process,
  • All dredged material should be tested for pyridine and any found with dangerous levels should be removed from the sea,
  • Maintenance dredging to be kept to the minimum level needed to keep the port operational until the expert panel’s investigation is completed,
  • Routine checks for pyridine as part of the testing and approval for any new capital dredging works until the cause of the deaths is known,
  • Any current capital dredging work and new licences issued after the conclusion of the expert panel’s investigation must take account of the outcome of that investigation.

Sir Robert made clear he was not calling for an end to maintenance dredging.