Warning over timber washing up on the Berwickshire coast

The Berwickshire coastline.
The Berwickshire coastline.

Members of the public are being urged not to try to salvage timber washed up along the Berwickshire coastline after a ship lost a significant amount of its load in the North Sea.

The cargo vessel ‘Frisian Lady’ lost 200 timber bundles during severe weather on March 2, while 110 nautical miles east of Souter Lighthouse, off the South Shields coast. Some of the timber was recovered at sea and the rest of the timber packets in various sizes between 2.5m-3m long are believed to have largely broken up into individual planks.

They have now been reported washing up on beaches between Eyemouth and St Andrews and local authorities are monitoring the situation and leading the clean-up operations in 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.”

HM Coastguard broadcast warnings to shipping of the lost cargo, but aerial surveillance indicates that most timber is no longer at sea and has washed ashore.

Reports of timber washed ashore can be made to Aberdeen Coastguard Operations Centre on 01224 592 334.

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 & 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 & Coastguard Agency is continuing to work alongside the local authorities to offer support for the clean-up operations.”