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‘McCain waste pipe has put our homes at risk of demolition’

By Lorraine Mullaney , 28-Jan-2013
Last updated the 28-Jan-2013 at 13:41 GMT

Residents of cliff-top homes that are under threat of demolition thanks to land slippage are claiming that the cliff’s instability is caused by a waste pipe running from a nearby McCain frozen food factory to the sea.

After hundreds of tonnes of earth fell down the cliff at Knipe Point, Scarborough, North Yorkshire last week (January 21), Scarborough Borough Council issued a statement stating that the four privately owned properties would have to be pulled down as they were at risk of collapse.

But members of Knipe Point Residents’ Association had already commissioned a local environmental consultancy to write a report on the situation. Their geological experts concluded that a pipe excreting waste from McCain’s Scarborough frozen food factory was leaking water into the cliff face, exacerbating the situation.

The property owners passed a copy of the report to McCain.

McCain said it had been in the area for four decades and was aware of the “long-standing” geological issues at Knipe Point.

‘Long-standing geological issues’

A spokesman for McCain said: “We have participated constructively on a voluntary basis in past authoritative studies, which have concluded that inherent and unstable geological conditions at Knipe Point are the most probable reason for the issue.

“We have only received a copy of the new document from the Knipe Point property owners in the last few days and, as we always take community representations seriously, we have asked geological experts to assess the document’s contents before commenting further.”

Following recent bad weather, the properties, which are currently unoccupied, are now just a few metres away from the edge of the same active landslide, which caused the loss of three homes in 2008.

Recommended demolition

Scarborough Borough Council engineers and North Yorkshire Building Control Partnership have recommended demolition to the owners of the properties.

They were first predicted to be at risk in 2009, at which point Scarborough Council commissioned engineering consultancy Halcrow to investigate the situation. The result was a report titled: ‘Cayton Bay Cliff Stability Assessment Ground Investigation and Appraisal of Engineering Stabilisation Options’.

Scarborough Council said one of the report’s key findings was that the stretch of coastline in question was geologically active and ever-changing and most sensitive to seasonal and short-term fluctuations in groundwater level.

In 2008 the Knipe Point landslide received national media attention due to the loss of three homes.

McCain employs around 1,000 people in the Scarborough area. Its site at Cayton makes frozen chips and pizzas. Last summer it announced that up to 40 jobs were under threat at its Scarborough site, as pizza sales slumped and it shifted production to ready-baked jacket potatoes.

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