Letter: Urgent surveys needed on Whitby pier extensions

Piers at Whitby. w172805g Picture: Maisie Pike. 12 July 2017.
Piers at Whitby. w172805g Picture: Maisie Pike. 12 July 2017.

I was delighted to read in last Friday’s Whitby Gazette that Scarborough Borough Council are, at long last, going to repair the defective steel piling at Endeavour Wharf.

Defective steel piling is also a major problem on the two pier extensions.

The 680m combined perimeter of foundations to the extensions is protected from scouring by steel piling backed with concrete.

Scour can create voids in the mudstone bedrock and indeed the underside of the concrete foundations. Large voids can destabilise the structures and eventually cause collapse.

Following a diving survey in 2008, the borough council’s consultants advised that 218m (32%) of the piling had either disintegrated or had been holed or was excessively corroded.

In 2008 consultants also alerted the borough council to the fact that the landward end of the east extension was cantilevered over a 6m deep by 2m high void and in danger of imminent collapse.

The remedial work, including 75m of new steel piling, was eventually completed in 2011 with a £4m grant.

In 2012 the same consultants sanctioned the postponement of the remedial work to the remaining defective steel piling on the extensions for 20 years, in order to prioritise the restoration works to the main piers.

However, this concession was subject to two strict conditions. Diving surveys were to be carried out every five years in order to monitor the piling, concrete backing and the voids. The first survey should have been completed in 2013, with the second one being due in 2018. These surveys were to provide Scarborough Borough Council with an opportunity to instigate any early emergency repairs.

They were also required to take horizontal cores in the concrete foundations, so that the consultants might gain a better understanding of the erosion process.

To my knowledge the borough council have been requested in writing on two occasions, the first being in early April, to confirm that these two conditions have been fulfilled. No replies have been received.

The thought that the condition of the steel piling on the extensions might not have been monitored by a diving survey since 2008 is quite terrifying. It would mean that Scarborough Borough Council are not aware of the current extent of the problem, and therefore they do not know whether or not they should be intervening with emergency remedial works.

Without these surveys they would be rendered blind, which is a situation that is totally unnecessary, extremely reckless and very dangerous.

Vin McLaughlan

Egton Bridge