Water pipe ‘not to blame for Scarborough landslip’

A LEAKING water pipe was not to blame for a landslip that left four homes perilously near to a cliff, investigations have revealed.

The landslip at Knipe Point has left the properties only inches from the edge of the collapse.
The landslip at Knipe Point has left the properties only inches from the edge of the collapse.

The owners of four homes after been told to tear their homes down after a chunk of crumbling cliff face fell away last month putting the homes at risk of collapse. It is not the first time that residents of bungalows at Knipe Point, Scarborough, have been faced with such a dilema - in 2008 three properties had to be demolished after a landslip.

Residents had obtained a consultant’s report which they initially claimed linked the instability of the cliff to leaks from a pipe which serves the McCain’s oven chip and frozen food factory on the outskirts of Scarborough.

But last night Yorkshire Water responded to claims that water appearing from the cliff at Knipe Point was coming from its pipe which serves McCain’s factory.

It said: “We’d like to reassure everyone concerned that our investigations show that our pipe is not to blame in any way for the recent land slippage.

“Our own checks have also confirmed that the water coming from the cliff is not potable water, meaning that it hasn’t come from any of our drinking water supply pipes in the area.

“Available evidence would seem to suggest that the landslip was simply an act of nature. Certainly this theory is supported by a larger, earlier study, conducted by the council, which concluded that this stretch of coastline is geologically active, leading to periodic landslips.”

In a statement McCain said the allegations had proved “unfounded” and added: “Solid evidence and expert opinion also make that clear.”

“No one in Scarborough can have anything but sympathy for the plight of those living at Knipe Point.”

The company said that as an “act of goodwill” it had decided to offer its resources to try to promote constructive talks between those who are potentially involved. Scarborough Borough Council have also said they would be willing to be involved in talks and Yorkshire Water said it would be willing to meet residents to discuss the report’s findings.

A strip of land measuring 6ft by 40ft disappeared in the landslip, bringing artist Kane Cunningham’s home within four feet of the cliff edge.

The decking of his neighbour’s property, which was already abandoned and being cleared out by a removal company the day after the disaster, was left almost overhanging the cliff edge.

Last night Scarborough Borough Council said it had sent residents a letter: “..saying that they should arrange for demolition and as we understand it they are in the process of doing that.”

The residents could not be contacted yesterday but Mr Cunningham earlier said: “This is an environmental disaster.

“I have been given three weeks to knock my house down.”

The council has said two of the affected residents would be eligible for cash from a Government fund.

The Pathfinder scheme was a pilot intended to assist those most at risk from coastal erosion who were not eligible for other forms of funding, with £11m awarded to 15 councils, including Scarborough, which received just over £1m.

The other two properties are not eligible because they were purchased after the original landslide and after the Pathfinder funding was secured. The money can be used by homeowners to build somewhere new in the event their Knipe Point properties are condemned.

Residents have been negotiating for years with the council to rebuild the homes on land at nearby Crossgates.

Last month the Knipe Point Residents’ Association was successful in its planning application to vary an occupancy condition at Saxon Park in Crossgates, meaning that the 14 owners of the most at-risk Knipe Point properties could take advantage of Pathfinder money to purchase land there if their clifftop property was lost; they could potentially build a home to live in all year round subject to conditions being satisfied.

In 2009 a report commissioned by the council found the stretch of coastline in question to be geologically active and ever-changing and most sensitive to seasonal and short term fluctuations in groundwater level.