Review of changes to Gairloch waste water treatment

  • Published
Gairloch protestImage source, Emma Smith
Image caption,
A protest was held against Scottish Water's plans last month

Scottish Water is reviewing its controversial planned changes to waste water treatment at Gairloch.

The utilities company 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.

Local campaigners called for the UV system to be used all year and said not doing so would only be for the sake of saving "a few thousand pounds".

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), however, approved the plans, saying there would be no deterioration in the "good status" of Loch Gairloch.

Image source, Emma Smith
Image caption,
Toilets were taken to the local beach on Loch Gairloch during a protest last month

Announcing the review, Scottish Water said the community would be involved in planning changes to the village's treatment plant.

Alan Thomson, of Scottish Water, said: "We recognise that customers in Gairloch continue to have strong concerns about our proposals for changes to waste water treatment in the area.

"We have been liaising with the local community about the development of our plans, but we have not succeeded in addressing all of the issues raised sufficiently.

"In light of this, we believe it is right that we should review our plans and seek to establish a closer and more constructive dialogue with local stakeholders.

"We will continue to manage the operational challenges at the existing waste water treatment works in the meantime, but we do not believe this will be the right option to protect the local environment in the long-term.

"Any long-term decisions we make on the future of waste water treatment in Gairloch will be the result of full and open discussion with the stakeholder group, which we intend to establish under an independent chair."

Image caption,
Gairloch's waste water treatment works at Fasaich

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and local SNP MSPs Maree Todd and Gail Ross have welcomed the review.

Ms Cunningham said: "There is now an opportunity for everyone to work together to identify an approach which provides long-term protection for Gairloch.

"This approach must be environmentally sustainable, meet the required standards on a continuing basis, and ensure the area maintains its status as an invaluable natural asset to the local community and its many visitors.

"The new group which is to be formed will have a vital role in ensuring these objectives are met."

Last month, villagers in Gairloch held a protest against what they described as a planned downgrading of the treatment plant.

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

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