HOUSES overlooking North Berwick’s iconic West Bay could be “in real danger” if nothing is done over an exposed sewage pipe on the beach there, it has been claimed.

The sewage pipe has been exposed for about 500 yards of the beach, one of the town’s most popular visitor attractions, as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ that plunged the county under snow for several days last month.

It is not the first time that severe weather has seen the sewage pipe badly exposed – the pipe was clearly visible in the aftermath of storms in December 2010 and was only re-covered by the natural return of sand to the beach over the following years.

As well as being an eyesore at a popular tourist spot, sand and rocks collect around the pipe and are then blasted by the tide at the sea wall, causing it damage.

Bill Macnair, a long-time member of North Berwick Community Council (NBCC), criticised the lack of action taken by the local authority and Scottish Water to resolve the long-running issue.

He and then-NBCC chairwoman Pat Burton worked on the problem for months in 2011 and Mr Macnair said he was “not prepared” to investigate again due to the lack of action taken by the council and Scottish Water, which owns the pipe.

He told an NBCC meeting last week: “I am deeply disappointed with East Lothian Council and Scottish Water – it is a real problem and an accident waiting to happen.

“We are going to end up losing the sea wall and then the houses there will be in real danger.

“It is not something that is going to go away – people talk about an ‘accident waiting to happen’ but this is exactly that, and it is very serious.”

Mr Macnair said he was “frustrated” at the response from the local authority that it was “monitoring the situation”, as reported by the Courier last month.

Jane McMinn, chairwoman of North Berwick Harbour Trust Association, who lives along the sea front, attended the meeting last Tuesday evening and shared Mr Macnair’s view that the council and Scottish Water needed to act to prevent the sea wall disappearing.

She said: “We’ve had three 100-year storms in the last five years so this is not something that is going to get any better, or go away.

“It is in our interest to push forward some kind of action.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said: “We are aware parts of this pipe can be temporarily exposed depending on the weather conditions which is causing this aesthetic issue. We would like to reassure our customers in North Berwick the sewer is operating as it should.’’

East Lothian Council said the pipe was the property and responsibility of ScottishWater, and a spokesperson added: “We are aware of this pipe becoming exposed through the movement of sand during high tides in recent storms.

“The council is monitoring the situation and is in discussions with ScottishWater about the removal of debris which is being caught behind the pipe.”