Campaigners fighting to save Whitby’s iconic piers received a boost from Westminster this week.
The Environment Agency has waived the requirement for the borough council to secure match funding for the £4.812m grant it has already been awarded to spend on repairs.
This means that work can begin on the town’s piers – which are in urgent need of upgrading, and could potentially fail at any moment – as soon as the project’s tender and design process is completed.
Whitby councillor Joe Plant told the Gazette: “This is great news for Whitby and I am delighted that a sensible way to secure the future of the town’s piers has been found.
“This development gives us the opportunity to start the most urgent work as soon as it is possible, without having to wait for additional monies to be secured.”
Cllr Plant was keen to stress that the government relaxing their policy on match funding didn’t mean that work on the piers could begin any earlier than the original scheduled start date of July 2017
“This won’t be a quick process, we can’t start the work without going through the correct procedures first,” he said.
“The most important thing is that we’re making progress.”
Whitby MP Robert Goodwill initially brought concerns over the town’s piers to the attention of the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.
He said: “DEFRA have been very understanding. They’ve taken on board the fact that Whitby’s piers could fail, something that would be a disaster for the town, and acted accordingly.
“I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to help secure the future of the piers.
“As the constituency’s MP, this is exactly the sort of thing I am here to help with.”
The proposed improvement works will involve stabilising the external sandstone facing blocks, filling in any gaps using grout suitable for the marine environment and repairs to the top surface of the piers to prevent water ingress during wave overtopping.
The council is currently in the process of appointing Mott McDonald as its consultant to procure, project manage and supervise the works and the next stage to commence shortly will be to engage a contractor to design, cost and build the scheme.