Oil Polution In Harbour May Be Killing Swans

  • Mr Brian BENNETT – Head of Tourism & Culture and Harbours – SBC
  • Yorkshire Swans – Pickering
  • Whitby Town (Parish) Councillors (Abbey Ward)
  • Councillor John Freeman (Whitby Town Mayor)
  • Councillor Ian Havelock (Chair: WTC Harbour Committee
  • Councillor Mike Cockerill (Chair: SBC Whitby Harbour Board)
  • Councillor Sandra Turner (Chair: SBC East Side Action Plan)
  • Councillor Dorothy Clegg (SBC Streonshalh Ward)
  • Councillor Peter Popple (SBC Northstead Ward)
  • Councillor Colin Challen (SBC Castle Ward)
  • Councillor Dilys Cluer (SBC Stepney Ward)
    Mr Jon Whitton (former Chair: Whitby Harbour Users’ Consultative Group)
  • Mr Robin Rawson (Environmental Health Officer – SBC)
  • Captain Ian Vasey (Borough Harbour Master – SBC)
  • Pat Duncan (Health & Safety Executive)
  • William Bartholemew (Natural England)
  •  Cc: Mr Robert Goodwill MP (Scarborough & Whitby)
  •  Cc: Mr Jon Stokoe (Editor: Whitby Gazette)
  • Cc: Mr Glenn Kilpatrick (Editor: Real Whitby)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am astonished to note that a period of three weeks has elapsed since I emailed to many of you, drawing your attention to the occurrence of large-scale oil pollution in Whitby Harbour.

The record now shows that not one of you has responded to me, thanking me for raising concerns regarding the extent of the demise of the swan population here in Whitby – from 23 in 2001, down to a single pair today – nor, apparently, for the environment more generally.

It may be a rural myth, but it is popularly held the the swans enjoy the protection concomitant with their status as possessions of the Crown.

Would each of you please be so good as to respond to me on this matter? Thank you.

I will be happy to publish your remarks in to the public domain.

Yours, with very kind regards,


9 Responses to "Oil Polution In Harbour May Be Killing Swans"

  1. Real Whitby  April 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Uooo The plugin is working

  2. Nigel Ward  April 3, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    @ Admin: Just to clarify: I did not say the oil-pollution was killing the swans. I said the oil-pollution was bad business, and I asked, in the earlier email, whether or not it might have an effect on the swans. I have since been independently advised (ie: NOT by one of the recipients of the above email) to contact the Royal Society for the Protection Birds, who apparently take swans very seriously indeed. I will pursue that.

  3. Nick  April 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Amazing that not one of them has replied to even say that they’ll ‘look into the matter’.
    I suppose that this is further evidence of how much they care about the town and the environment in and around the town.

  4. Nigel Ward  April 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Email to the RSPB. Auto-acknowledged.

    Name: Nigel
    Date: 03/04/2012 20:48:52

    I have been reporting concerns regarding oil-pollution in Whitby Harbour and the Esk estuary to my local authorities (ie: SBC, NYCC, Natural England, EH, etc) without any acknowledgement or response.

    Local residents are tying the recurrent oil-pollution problem with the dramatic reduction in the resident swan population from 23 to 2 in the past decade.

    Please advise.

    Pind regards,


    • Nigel Ward  April 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      Well. It is the end of the working week and I have had no response from the RSPB.

  5. peter anderson  April 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    well done nigel, and very well put forward.

  6. Nigel Ward  April 16, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Finally, a response (of sorts)on the subject of the oil-pollution/swan polpulation:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Bartholomew, William (NE)
    To: Nigel
    Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 11:04 AM
    Subject: RE: Oil pollution in Whitby Harbour – again [2]

    Dear Nigel,

    Thank you kindly for your e-mail. May I suggest, if you have not already contacted the Environment Agency, then contact them as soon as possible. Their remit extends to water pollution issues and they can provide the appropriate advice and undertake appropriate actions to remedy this situation.

    Thank you for your diligence regarding the environmental quality of this important area.

    Best regards,


    William E. Bartholomew
    Land Management & Conservation Adviser
    Yorkshire NorthTeam
    Natural England

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Bartholomew, William (NE) ; Brian Bennett ; enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk
    Cc: WTC etc
    Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 11:34 AM
    Subject: Re: Oil pollution in Whitby Harbour – again [3]

    Mr William E. Bartholemew – Land Management & Conservation Advisor – Natural England


    Thank you very much for your email.

    As you have no doubt discerned from the appended ‘thread’ of emails, it is now five weeks since I raised these concerns about what you so aptly describe as “the environmental quality of this important area”.

    You are the only recipient of my emails to have taken the trouble to respond – for which I am, of course, immeasurably grateful. Clearly, the other recipients do not subscribe to your characterization, nor do they thank me, as you have done, for my “diligence”.

    You will be interested to learn that a member of the public has complained to the Leader of Scarborough Borough Council regarding the remarks made to him by SBC Head of Tourism & Culture and Harbour Supremo Mr Brian Bennett, to whom my concerns were principally addressed – being the proper person to approach on Harbour matters.

    Mr Bennett’s remarks about his attitude to incoming emails have been widely circulated in the public domain. Lest you have happened to miss them, I reproduce them here for your convenient perusal:

    “I get about 80 odd e-mails a day, most days I don’t read most of them, what I tend to do is look at those that stand out and it can go for weeks before I read some of them. Some of them I probably don’t even read at all. I look at who its from and the title and I think well if its that important they will come back and ask, and if its not then eventually they just get deleted”

    Frankly, I am appalled that only your good self has shown any concern whatsoever about the pollution in Whitby Harbour and the concomitant impact on the environment, including wildlife, surrounding it.

    I do not have a contact name at the Environment Agency, so I hope I can prevail upon you to pass on my concerns. If you are unable to do so, perhaps you would be so good as to suggest to the other recipients of this email that it is inappropriate to disregard “the environmental quality of this important area”. Perhaps one of them will act responsibly.

    My thanks again for your response.

    Kind regards,


  7. Nigel Ward  April 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Finally. A raction. Of sorts.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Enquiries, Unit
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 4:34 PM
    Subject: FW: Ref 120417/AR31 Re: Oil pollution in Whitby Harbour – again [3]

    Dear Nigel,

    Thank you for your enquiry reporting oil pollution.

    This has been forwarded to our Incident Communications Service who will arrange for the incident to be investigated.

    To report any further potential pollution or flooding incident (i.e. fish in distress, dumping of hazardous waste) please call our 24 hour freephone Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60. This hotline is manned 24 hours a day and can deal with your report straight away. You can remain anonymous if you so wish.

    Please see the link below to find further information on the types of incident that we deal with:


    Warm regards

    Aimee Reed

    Environment Agency
    Customer Service Advisor
    National Customer Contact Centre
    Part of National Operations

  8. Countdown Klok  September 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

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whitby photography by glenn kilpatrick