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Statement from Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen

Please see below for a statement from Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen on the report published today (20 January) examining the cause of the shellfish die-off that took place in October 2021.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Having read the report produced by Sir Patrick Vallance’s independent panel of marine experts it is clear that neither dredging, nor any work carried out by the Freeport, played a role in the crustacean deaths that occurred in October 2021.

“As mayor I will always take decisions based on the science and evidence provided by experts. Today’s report is thorough, conclusive and – as anyone would expect – we will follow the science.

“When I was elected, I promised former steelworkers who worked on that site that I would create a new thriving industry of the future with thousands of good-quality local jobs for local people. Today, backed by the science, we can look every single one of them in the eye and say the work we are doing, in an area that means so much to so many people, is safe and is of the highest possible standard.

“The wash-up in 2021 was devastating for our fishing community – one of our proudest industries with some of the most hard-working people on Teesside. Their industry has been ruined by a natural disaster and it is now essential Government steps up and supports them to recover from the events of October 2021. I’ve said this from day one and will continue to press the case with ministers.

“I always have, and I always will, work tirelessly to deliver jobs and investments for Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. That work will only intensify in the coming weeks to continue to deliver for the people I represent.”