The orange iron ore pollution flooding into Saltburn Gill beck is finally going to be cleaned up using a share of £9.3m awarded to the UK Coal Authority with remedial work due to start imminently.
Saltburn Gill is a 52 acre woodland nature reserve nestling in the shadow of Saltburn by the Sea, where drifts of Wild Garlic and Bluebells herald the arrival of Spring and where sightings of Roe deer are always a possibility. A designated Site of Special Scientific Interest it has a wealth of wildlife, including kingfishers and otters. However the nature reserve has been plagued for years by unsightly coloured water from a disused iron ore mine. In 1999 it's colour went bright orange - 35 years after a nearby mine closed.
There was no legal responsibility for the landowners or former operators to tackle the problem due to a loophole in the law as the mine was abandoned before January 1, 2000.
But in a breakthrough, Environment Agency improvements for the EU Water Framework Directive in England 2015 now includes all stretches including rivers, coasts, estuaries, lakes, man-made structures and groundwater.
John Delaney, from the UK Coal Authority, confirmed it is receiving an award of £9.3m for clean-up work at long-abandoned mine sites, including old metal ore mines.
He has praised progress at Saltburn 'thanks to the influence of the Saltburn Gill Action Group (SGAG) in obtaining early money for an initial investigation.'
SGAG chairman Jim Wingham said: 'Saltburn's share of the aid is £700,000.
'This will be spent this financial year drilling a large diameter additional bore hole.
"The idea is that water will be pumped out to lower the head of water near the source of the pollution, and by that time the Department for Food and Rural Affairs will be putting out to tender a water treatment facility which should filter the water and solve the problem.'
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop has hailed the news as a 'breakthrough.'
He said: 'We need to thank Saltburn Gill Action Group, Parish Councillor Jim Wingham, who led the battle and who originally asked me to become involved, and all the other local Saltburn councillors as well.
'We have come a long way - now we face the battle to complete the scheme, and bequeath clean water for local watercourses for future generations to come.'