Anger as bungling builders at Cammo Estate turn Edinburgh beauty spot burn brown

Nick Benge at the burnNick Benge at the burn
Nick Benge at the burn
SEPA called in amid drainage problems at site

BUNGLING builders have been slammed after their botched drainage system turned a beauty spot’s burn brown.

Dog-walker Nick Benge spotted the filthy water of Bughtlin Burn and traced the cause to the nearby 655-home Cammo Estate scheme off Maybury Road.

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Now developers CALA Homes and David Wilson Homes have assured the Scottish Environment Protection Agency they will rectify the problem amid concerns for wildlife.

“For me personally, there are big companies making multi-million pounds from that site and they just need to take a bit of care and they’re not doing it,” said Mr Benge, 58. “Personally, I think it’s disgraceful.”

The landscaping company boss spotted the murky waters on Friday morning while out walking eight-year-old cockapoo, Bramble.

“I know a bit about this because I work in this type of area,” said the married father-of-two.

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“Right after a flood, it could go a little muddy but the waters were low and it was full of soil and I know what that means from my experience.”

Mr Benge said he headed up stream to find trenches cut into the ground to help drain the building site were failing to sift out mud from water heading into the burn.

“I walked up stream and there’s a huge housing scheme where they’re just cutting the ground.

“They’re taking trenches off the site and running them into the burn but what will be part of the construction plan is to put measures in to stop the run off taking mud into the burn.”

Netting and rubble 'not working'

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Mr Benge said netting and rubble placed in the trenches were failing to prevent mud being carried into the water.

“There were two trenches into the burn and there was netting and rubble in the trenches but it was just running around them,” said Mr Benge.

“This is not meant to happen,” he added. “Because it smothers the wildlife in the burn and can cause a lot of damage.”

Birds including dippers and wagtails are known to visit the burn which is also home to caddisflies and Gammarid shrimp.

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Trout are also thought to occasionally swim up from the Almond while otters have been spotted in the river where the burn joins.

SEPA’s environment protection officer Ewan Thorburn wrote to Mr Benge to say: “SEPA have been working with Cala Homes to ensure runoff from their site is minimised to the extent that it no longer causes pollution to the Bughtlin Burn.

“Steps have been taken which has improved the situation but I understand some additional investigation of unmarked historic field drains is being undertaken.

“It may take a day or two to notice a difference whilst this is being done. A follow up inspection is likely in the future to assess compliance with the site construction licence.”

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A spokesperson for SEPA said: “SEPA responded to a report of pollution to the Bughtlin Burn from a construction site on Friday 31 January.

"Remedial action was taken and further steps are being implemented. The pollution may be evident for a few days. SEPA will carry out a further inspection of the Bughtlin Burn. However, if anyone is concerned about any incidents of potential pollution please call our 24 hour Pollution Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or use our online reporting form."

Managing the situation

A spokesperson on behalf of the CALA Homes and David Wilson Homes consortium, said: “As part of our development proposal we have in place a management plan which adheres to industry practice and has been agreed with SEPA.

"As a consequence of recent excessive rainfall we elected to add further measures to treat surface water runoff from the site.

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"Extensive work on site has created channels with netting that directs excess water into a dedicated settlement pond. This is then filtered in a basin, mitigating untreated runoff into the Bughtlin Burn.

“As we have cleared debris for sections of the burn edge unrecorded drains have been discovered, drains dating back to the site's previous use. These have now been incorporated into the management plan for the site.

"Working closely with SEPA and other partners we will continue to monitor and manage this situation. We’ll continue to place this level of focus on surface water management in advance of the permanent drainage systems being in place."