A DRILLING rig carrying out test bores for a proposed wind farm at Redcar has been smashed off its legs and driven ashore by heavy seas, the RNLI said today.

The drilling rig was smashed from its legs by heavy seas during the early hours of Saturday. The rig, approximately 30 metres in length and 15 metres wide, had been operating in the Tees Bay area, carrying out test bores to determine the nature of the sea bed before construction of the proposed wind farm could go ahead.

The legs remain on the sea bed at Coatham and the rig was driven several miles down the coast before washing ashore in between the timber groynes between the Stray Cafe and Green Lane at Redcar.

An exclusion zone round the legs has been set up by Coastguards to prevent other vessels striking them.

Dave Cocks from Redcar RNLI said "The rig was unmanned at the time of the incident so there was no request for the lifeboat to launch.

"The seas are far to heavy at the moment for any attempt to attach tow ropes and pull the rig clear.

"The tides over the next few days are getting higher so there's every chance the rig will be re-floated once the heavy seas die down.

"The lifeboats from Redcar will assist wherever possible with the recovery."