CAMPAIGNERS frustrated by ‘the lack of action’ to stop pollution in Whitehaven Harbour are shining a light on the issue – one year after it started.

The discoloured water began entering the harbour from a culvert in Queen’s Dock at the end of last year and investigations into the cause are still ongoing.

Network Rail engineers carried out tests in Bransty Tunnel between Corkickle and Whitehaven last month in an attempt to identify the cause of the rust-coloured water.

It is believed the water, containing iron ochre, could be from historic mine workings in the area.

Environmental campaigner Marianne Birkby is now inviting members of the public to an art event at the entrance to Queen’s Dock to draw attention to the problem.

People are encouraged to paint or draw in shades of red and orange the iconic harbour of Whitehaven to highlight the year-long outpouring of polluted water.

News and Star: 'Colour it red' by Marianne Birkby'Colour it red' by Marianne Birkby (Image: Submitted)

The images along with a letter will be sent to the Coal Authority, Environment Agency, Network Rail and others responsible for tackling the ongoing pollution.

Artist Marianne Birkby who frequently paints the wildlife of the Whitehaven area said: “It is intolerable that this situation has continued for a full year already with no end in sight. The prospect of ever more deep mining in the Whitehaven area whether for coal or for a deep nuclear dump is unconscionable.” 

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We’re committed to working with the Environment Agency and Coal Authority to find the source of the water impacting our railway tunnel and the harbour, so we can plan next steps to find a solution together.

“We hope this will help provide much needed answers to local residents and business owners. Solving this is also important for our passengers and freight users, whose journeys will be made more reliable and faster once the source of the mysterious orange water is made clear.

“We know this complex investigation work is causing frustration as it’s taking a long time, so we thank harbour users, rail passengers and the local community for their continued patience.”

The art event will take place at Queen’s Dock on December 7 from 12pm until 1pm.

All abilities are welcome and there will be materials freely available for people to use.  For those who cannot come along on the day people are invited to email their drawings  to