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Growing concern about crude oil deposit on North Lowestoft/ Gunton Beach

February 22, 2021 1:50 PM

East Suffolk Lib Dems have been appraised of the growing disquiet locally about the large crude oil deposit on North Lowestoft/Gunton Beach featured recently in the Lowestoft Journal and the apparent lack of action by the responsible authorities. Oil Spillage North Lowestoft Gunton Beach (John Ellerby)

It is reported that the recent storm has apparently exacerbated the problem and added to concerns that more oil buried may be exposed as a result of coastal erosion and increase the risk of the contamination of other local beaches and be a potential threats to people, animals and wildlife in the area.

A local resident reported that 'the oil is soft and bits of it break off easily. It melts and.. last week an oily film could be seen on the water found in the crevasses and even liquid oil. This will become more hazardous as the weather warms up'.

The Environment Agency and East Suffolk Council responsible for coastal management, monitoring and ensuring environmental have been asked by residents for an analysis of the oil and what plan of action has been drawn up to deal with the situation.

Local resident Susan Steward said, The problem, I think, is that they are trying to portray this as a 'Gunton' problem rather than a much wider problem. Also, other correspondence with councillors in ESDC are referring to it as an 'historic oil spill' (ELeni V.) - my argument is that it isn't as this is a NEW problem because the oil has now been exposed and more will be exposed as dunes are eroded (much more quickly than anticipated by climate change changing weather patterns).

I don't think this issue is being taken seriously enough nor do I think that its remit is wide enough. The Environment Agency have told me that:

East Suffolk Council are the lead authority for this incident as they are responsible for the beach and for local amenity issues. As can imagine they have received a number of reports recently and they are actively considering what options are available to them. We have provided them with advice on the environmental considerations of removing the oil and potential disposal sites. However the decision and responsibility on whether to remove the oil or not lies with them. No records of where the oil is buried were created at the time, so a survey would be required to identify where it is.

I am still asking the question 'what would happen if this were Southwold'? Many people round about are asking the same - we feel that because it is Lowestoft it can be ignored and the damage not being taken seriously.