Timeline of Events

5 November 2020 Royal HaskoningDHV, on behalf of Teesworks, submits EIA report as part of MMO licence application. Read the full report here.

6 November 2020 Teesworks submits application to the MMO for a licence to construct the South Bank Quay.

4 December 2020 Teesworks, through Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, consult the Environment Agency regarding the planning application for the Demolition of existing redundant quay structures, capital dredging and development of new quay and associated works (phase 1). Land at south bank wharf, Grangetown, Lackenby.

23 December 2020 MMO Coastal Office and MCT – North East Marine Area consulted as part of application – No conditions requested.

21 January 2021 Maritime and Coastguard Agency – Navigational Safety Branch confirms no objections.

22 January 2021 Historic England sets out its conditions of further assessment.

22 January 2021 Teesport Harbour Authority sets out its conditions as part of any licence.

29 January 2021 Natural England response to initial application setting out its conditions as part of any licence.

8 February 2021 CEFAS – Underwater Noise – response to initial application setting out its conditions as part of any licence.

8 February 2021 CEFAS – Seal – response to initial application setting out their conditions as part of any licence.

8 February 2021 CEFAS – Coastal Processes – response to initial application setting out its conditions as part of any licence.

8 February 2021 CEFAS – Benthic – response to initial application setting out its conditions as part of any licence.

8 February 2021 CEFAS – Shellfish Advice – response to initial application setting out its conditions as part of any licence.

22 February 2021 Letter sent from the Environment Agency to MMO listing its objections requesting further assessment.

3 March 2021 Email from Royal HaskoningDHV to MMO acknowledging the objection from the Environment Agency and commitment to address noting prior approval by EA.

4 March 2021 The Environment Agency confirms it now has no objections to RCBC/Teesworks plans subject to the order meeting certain conditions.

16 March 2021 Royal HaskoningDHV on behalf of Teesworks sets out its comments to CEFAS conditions.

29 June 2021 The Environment Agency confirms to the Marine Management Organisation that it withdraws its objection raised on 22 February 2021 subject to a condition being met – Water Quality Monitoring.

5 July 2021 Letter from Natural England confirming appropriate assessment undertaken and proposes secondary conditions.

October 2021 Dead crustaceans start to be washed ashore. In early October 2021, the Environment Agency received reports that crabs, and lobsters were washing up dead and dying on Teesside beaches. The Environment Agency immediately launched an emergency investigation, working with a range of UK government agencies including Cefas, MMO, FSA, UKHSA, and Defra. The roles of each agency were as follows:

December 2021 Defra states that it will take overall responsibility for the investigation from the Environment Agency. (Unknown to this office at this time.)

19 January 2022 Mayor directly contacts Environment Agency and requests meeting to discuss whether progress is being made on investigation.

21 January 2022 Mayor meets EA for progress report. Shares his concerns re the effects of the mass crustacean die-off on the region and fishing industry.

9 February 2022 Mayor contacts EA again, forwards Tim Deere-Jones report with following request:

“A further issue we need to raise with you is the attached report. This document has been widely reported on in the press, and although we know that the Environment Agency does not currently believe that dredging has caused the recent incident, the unrefuted repetition of reports about this document is causing uncertainty amidst continuing widespread public concern about the environment in and around the Tees.

 “The Mayor would be grateful if the Environment Agency could carefully consider, if it has not already, the document, and provide a comprehensive response to it and an explanation as to whether its claims are valid or not – and if not, why not, and on the basis of what evidence. Apart from replying to us so that we can understand and explain the position to people contacting us, it would be valuable for the Environment Agency (and Defra ideally) to respond directly to the report. 

 “Could this be possible, please?” 

15 February 2022 Response from Environment Agency;

“Thank you for contacting us about this.

 “We are aware of the report you attached to your email and the press coverage it has generated. We understand that Defra, as the lead for this investigation, will be publishing a formal rebuttal to the report in the coming days. 

 “I have included the details of the Environment Agency’s investigations into pyridine as a potential cause for this event below. As you will see, EA investigations suggest that pyridine had no role in causing the crustacean deaths. We have issued this information as part of our regional stakeholder briefings and our briefings to the press. We also shared these findings with the local fishing community in December last year. 

 – The chemical Pyridine was detected in crab tissue samples analysed by the Environment Agency. This was picked up using a new screening technique that looked for as many potential contaminants as possible.

 – Once identified, steps were immediately taken to consider whether Pyridine could have killed crabs and lobsters in the area.

 – The Environment Agency compared crab samples from Teesside and North Yorkshire with samples taken from St. Mary’s Lighthouse, North Shields, Norfolk Wash and Cornwall to investigate whether Pyridine was only present in crabs from the affected area, or whether the chemical is present in dead crabs more generally.

 – They found that Pyridine was present in dead crabs from every location, some with higher amounts than the affected area, and some lower.

 – This, along with the fact that Pyridine was not detected in local water or sediment samples strongly suggests that Pyridine had no role in the deaths. 

 – Though Pyridine can be produced as part of industrial processes, the EA sampled effluent discharges in the area and none was detected.  

 – The huge quantity of Pyridine that would have to be present to cause an incident of this scale and duration, combined with the powerful dilution effect of the sea, make chemical contamination extremely unlikely.

 – Existing scientific literature suggests that Pyridine may be linked to natural processes linked with decay/death in the crab tissue, however, this is something which will need to be explored further in scientific research. 

 If you have any further queries, please let us know.”  

 25 February 2022 MMO confirms licence is granted in line with the North East Inshore Marine Plan and contains a number of conditions set to be met.

March 2022 Defra and the EA conclude their investigation into North East crab and lobster deaths confirming that dredging was not the cause.

2 March 2022 Mayor meets with Sally Bunce, Helen Taylor, Joe Redfern re their concerns over Pyridine. Read more here.

8 March Mayor’s office requests follow-up meeting to discuss the further information provided by Bunce, Taylor, Redfern and an update on any further actions that are being taken by Defra and the Environment Agency.

1 April EA replies to inform Mayor’s office that it will not be taking part in the further requested meeting as the agenda topics are outside of their remit. Defra will make further arrangements.

5 April Defra contacts the Mayor’s Office to inform that it will schedule a follow-up meeting with the Mayor to discuss the investigation and subsequent report on the report release.

19 May 2022 Protest event on River Tees.

May 2022 Investigation Summary produced by EA, Defra, Cefas and MMO – Joint Agency Investigation into Teesside and Yorkshire Coast Crab and Lobster Mortalities Joint agency investigation into Teesside and Yorkshire Coast Crab and Lobster mortalities investigation summary (publishing.service.gov.uk)

31 May 2022 Mayor writes to George Eustice MP, SoS for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs urging for further investigation and the implementation of a long-term multi-agency monitoring programme so that any future adverse events to marine life can be more quickly and thoroughly detected and investigated.

28 June 2022 Westminster Hall Debate re Dead Crustaceans – North East Coast.

5 July 2022 Mayor meets group of Fishermen to discuss the crustacean die-off.

15 July 2022 Mayor writes to Victoria Prentis MP Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food re assistance available to the fishing community.

1 September 2022 The South Tees Development Corporation commences dredging on the South Bank Quay for the first time.

1 November 2022 Cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee into crustaceans issues letter saying dredging can continue.

9 November 2022 Dredging of the first phase of the South Bank Quay concludes with no reported issues.

Download Brochure