Highlands & Islands

Protest held against Gairloch waste water changes

Protest in Gairloch
Image caption Some of those taking part in the protest enjoyed a swim in Loch Gairloch

Villagers in Gairloch have held a protest against what they describe as a planned downgrading of the community's waste water treatment plant.

Scottish Water has proposed using an ultra-violet filtration system on sewage for five months of the year.

Outside of the bathing season, waste water would be treated in settling tanks before being discharged.

Campaigners say the preferred UV system would not be used all year for the sake of saving "a few thousand pounds".

Toilets were taken to the local beach on Loch Gairloch, and some villagers swam in the bay during Friday's protest.

Image copyright Emma Smith
Image caption The protest was held as part of a community campaign against Scottish Water's plans
Image caption One of the toilets taken to the local beach to help highlight villagers' concerns
Image copyright Emma Smith

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), which has approved Scottish Water's plans, has said there would be no deterioration in the "good status" of Loch Gairloch, into which treated waste water is eventually discharged.

Scottish Water said it was considering whether the installation of a small wind turbine could provide the power needed to extend the use of the UV treatment at its Fasaich treatment works.

Scottish ministers are considering the utility company's plans.

Image copyright Emma Smith

During Thursday's first minister's questions at Holyrood, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant urged the government to intervene and call-in the plans.

Responding, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ministers would decide within the next month if a call-in was required for further scrutiny.

Image copyright Emma Smith
Image caption Sepa has said the quality of the loch's water and beaches would not deteriorate under the proposals
Image caption Residents fear a downgrading of their waste water treatment

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