Call to outline Seafield stench sewage plant plans

Rob Kirkwood sees scope for compromise. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Rob Kirkwood sees scope for compromise. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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RESIDENTS plagued by the notorious “Seafield stench” could call off their campaign against the sewage works if Scottish Water promises it will find a different site for a new plant.

It is understood the lifespan of the water treatment works has around 17 or 18 years to run, and campaigners say a commitment to close the present site and move could help end the “trench warfare” over the smell.

Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, said he could see the row between residents and Scottish Water going on indefinitely unless there was some initiative to find an agreement.

He said: “We would be willing to discuss any proposal. I can’t promise the campaign would be called off, but having spoken to people, there is a willingness to be more creative about the current impasse.

“If they are willing to reduce the life of the current plant, say to ten years, with the promise to relocate, then there is mileage for discussion.”

City council environment convener Lesley Hinds said she wanted the company to clarify its plans for Seafield.

She said: “This is the time to talk about whether the plant continues where it is and if so, what they need to do to make it as close to smell-free as possible – and if not, where it should be.

“We need to say to Scottish Water: ‘What are your plans? Are you going to continue to invest and keep the plant there after the 20 years and invest over that time or should it continue to be there?’ It’s a fundamental question.

“We need to get a commitment from Scottish Water on what investment they are going to put into that plant over the next five, ten, 15 years.”

A report on Seafield is due to go to the council’s environment committee next month.

An enforcement order was served on the plant last year over the stink and an independent report has identified where it believes the problems lie.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Seafield waste water treatment works is a strategic asset which will serve the city and region for many years to come.

“It is managed on our behalf by Veolia Water UK under a 30-year contract which has been running since 1999.

“Recent years have seen significant investment in the site, for example a £20 million odour improvement plan was completed in the summer of 2011, as well as a multi-million pound project to construct a new inlet works and replace course and fine screens.”

He said work was under way to install a plant to process sludge for use as a fertiliser, which would help generate renewable energy to power the site, and result in fewer lorry movements in and out of the works.