Timber washes up on Southwold beach
A major clear-up operation is under way after hundreds of wooden planks washed up on beaches along the Suffolk coast.
A major clear-up operation is under way after hundreds of wooden planks washed up on beaches along the Suffolk coast today.
One of the main places to be affected was the popular resort of Southwold where dozens of people turned up early this morning to help themselves to the timber, which was lost from a Russian-registered cargo ship earlier this month.
Police were quickly on the scene and while it is not a criminal offence to take the timber, anyone doing so has to register their haul with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Quantities of the wood were also found south of Southwold at places such as Walberswick and planks were beginning to wash up in Lowestoft during the afternoon.
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A spokesman for Suffolk police said: 'For public safety reasons, officers are advising people not to remove the wood. Officers have been dispatched to patrol the area and, along with coastguard personnel, will be taking details of those seen taking the timber.
'While it is not illegal to remove the wood, you must then notify the receiver of the wreck or it becomes a criminal offence.'
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Waveney District Council was involved in the clean-up operation and a spokesman said: 'The council would urge people to keep clear of this area of the beach until the clear-up has taken place.
'Some of the timber has broken up and there are large splinters that could be hazardous. When the large items have been removed, the beach will also be thoroughly raked.'
Much of the wood turned up on the Sussex and Kent coasts, but the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said yesterday that the remaining wood was floating towards the Suffolk coastline.
Anyone who removes the timber without notifying the Receiver of Wreck at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is committing a criminal offence.
Failure to report items within 28 days can result in a fine of up to �2,500 and report forms can be downloaded from www.mcga.gov.uk.
If salvaged goods are not claimed by the owner within a year, they become the property of the Crown and are disposed of at the discretion of the Receiver of Wreck. This could be done at a sale or auction, or the items could be given to the person who salvaged them.