DRILLING equipment is being used to study the geology below two of Yorkshire's most popular seaside resorts as part of a £110m scheme to transform the region's beaches and bathing waters into the best in Europe.
The exploratory work is a key element of the ambitious project to improve the 50-mile stretch of Yorkshire's coastline and will see soil and rock samples collected from a series of locations in both Scarborough and Bridlington.
The technology has been employed at major building projects including the construction of London's Olympic Stadium ahead of the 2012 Games.
The work will start today in Scarborough before the studies move on to Bridlington, and the drilling, which will go to a depth of 425ft, is due to continue until the early spring.
But senior officials from Yorkshire Water, which is overseeing the 750,000 drilling work, have stressed that they will attempt to keep disruption to a minimum.
Once the rock and soil samples have been analysed, it is hoped that the results will provide Yorkshire Water with a clear understanding of the geology under the two towns to improve sewer systems and introduce underwater storage facilities.
Yorkshire Water's project manager, Steven Pace, said: "We're committed, alongside the Environment Agency and local councils, to doing all we can to transform Yorkshire's coastline and hopefully deliver a blue flag to each of the region's eight coastal resorts by 2015.
"Between now and then we've pledged to play our part in this initiative by investing 110m to improve our sewage treatment facilities which should in turn deliver huge benefits along Yorkshire's coastline."
He added: "The borehole sampling we're going to be doing will go a long way towards informing our plans and ultimately ensuring that we have the right solutions in place to deliver such improvements.
"And while some of the holes we will be drilling will reach far into the ground, we are doing our best to minimise any impact this activity might have both from a traffic and noise perspective by choosing the locations and machinery we use very carefully."
The investigative and sampling work will be carried out by specialists from Soil Mechanics Ltd, and despite the reassurances about traffic disruption and noise levels, it is expected some of the drilling locations will be in the centre of both Scarborough and Bridlington.
Yorkshire Water has joined forces with the Environment Agency and local councils to launch the ground-breaking multi-million initiative to dramatically improve the region's beaches and bathing waters.
The goal is to ensure that Yorkshire's bathing waters can achieve a new "excellent" standard due to come into force in 2015 as part of a new European directive.
But the project sparked controversy after it was unveiled in November when it emerged that many of Yorkshire's favourite seaside haunts are likely to miss out on the 110m package as spending is being targeted at the bigger resorts.
While millions of pounds are to be spent improving sewage treatment and waste water storage in Scarborough, Filey, and Bridlington, smaller resorts – where locals have complained about alleged sewage problems for years – have simply been given a promise of more sophisticated research.
Other resorts – including Whitby, and "Britain's Worst Beach" at Staithes – have been lumped together as areas where Yorkshire Water's assets are "not believed to impact on water quality".
The beach at Staithes has been repeatedly named and shamed in water quality league tables, and remains one of the few in England to constantly fail the standards required.
But the village's tight bay means that there is not enough sea movement to effectively disperse pollution.