RIVERSIDE residents in South Tyneside who endured sleepless nights as the result of a 24-hour cargo delivery are fearful of more disruption to their previously peaceful lives.
People living in Commercial Road, South Shields, yards from the former McNulty shipyard, say their lives were put on hold for a whole day after a cargo vessel’s load of rocks was delivered to the area via a conveyor belt.
Now homeowners are worried they could face more disruption as the Port pushes ahead with a £180m expansion plan and the creation of a new wood pellet-handling and storage facility at Tyne Dock.
Residents said the rock transfer went on from 6.30pm on Tuesday, June 17, until 7.20pm the next day.
Today, a senior Port official said the operation was needed to prepare the way for a riverside quay extension.
And with two more shipments due shortly, she asked for support from close neighbours while pledging the Port would keep them informed of measures to minimise future noise and restrict working hours.
But ex-Merchant Navy chef Ralph Quaid, 66, described the noise as “unbearable”. He said: “It went on throughout the night and was completely unbearable.
“I was left with ringing in my ears and had to go to the doctor. I can still hear it now.
“This should never have been allowed to happen. Under the 1990 Environmental Protection Act, this work should not have gone on beyond 5pm but we had the noise of the rocks rolling along the conveyor belt 24/7. It never stopped.
“The noise was a lot louder than shotblasting and it was continuous.
“On top of that there was the dust and muck coming into our gardens.”
Mr Quaid’s neighbour, Elizabeth Meston, 62, has spent several thousand pounds on improvements to her garden in recent months.
But during the recent delivery, she was forced to retreat inside her home with the windows closed.
She said: “It was probably the hottest day of the year but there was no way we could sit in the garden with that noise. You could hardly hear the TV because of it.
“I love living here but that destroyed our peace and quiet.
“There was no information or forewarning from the Port. I think that is the least we deserve.
“One of our neighbours has a small child with autism and he was up all night – he thought the dinosaurs were coming to get him.
“We now need assurance that there won’t be a repeat of this.”
Susan Wear, director of corporate affairs at the Port of Tyne, said: “The rock transfer operation was necessary to bring in material to prepare the way for the riverside quay extension which will help sustain and grow the port’s business, creating jobs and economic growth for the future.
“We are asking close neighbours of the port to support us during two more shipments in coming weeks, and we will be keeping them informed about the measures we are taking to minimise noise and place further restrictions on working hours.”
The Port recently celebrated five years of record growth.
Last year, it saw cargo volumes increase by 25 per cent to 8.1 million tonnes, while turnover rose by 16 per cent to £73m, compared to 2012.
Continued record growth underlined its status as the UK’s fastest-growing major deep sea port, which adds £500m to the regional economy, while supporting 10,500 jobs.
Earlier this year, planning approval for a £180m expansion of the Port was granted by South Tyneside Council’s planning committee.
It will see the creation of a new wood pellet-handling and storage facility at Tyne Dock, meaning 900 construction jobs and 300 full-time jobs when fully operational.