Clean-up of Leith Shore ‘sea of rubbish’ begins after weeks of wrangling

The litter squad has been deployed at Leith Shore to begin the clean-up operation. Picture: Neil Hanna
The litter squad has been deployed at Leith Shore to begin the clean-up operation. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A LITTER squad has been deployed to clean up The Shore after last month’s downpours led to a build-up of flotsam.

City chiefs stepped in after the unsightly blight on the Water of Leith became a threat to wildlife and triggered public outcry.

The Evening News reported last week on the dramatic rescue of a fox by firefighters and animal welfare officers after it got stranded on the debris.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “I’m sure I speak for the community when I say it’s a massive relief to see the clean-up under way and I’m very glad we and Forth Ports were able to agree a plan to clear away the debris.”

Council bosses decided to act after efforts to get basin owners, Water of Leith 2000, to organise the clean-up failed.

After weeks of argument over who is responsible for cleaning up the mess, the city council and the dock owners will each meet half the cost, estimated at a total of around £12,000.

Cllr McVey added: “The community and the local wildlife should not have had to put up with this eyesore and potential health hazard for so long, especially at the height of the summer season when this fantastic, iconic area is such a draw.

“The council has been willing to facilitate the clean-up of the basins but all stakeholders have responsibilities to address the situation.

“We are disappointed that despite being responsible for managing the basin, the owners Water of Leith 2000 have not helped to support our joint efforts to resolve the situation following recent high 
rainfall.

“We will bring all parties together urgently to agree a permanent solution to this long-standing problem and ensure they meet their environmental responsibilities to the community.”

After discussions with Forth Ports, which owns the docks, the council has appointed a contractor to remove the flotsam from the water.

The work – funded jointly by both the council and Forth Ports – began yesterday and will be completed next week.

Residents welcomed the move but criticised the delay in sorting the problem.

Zsuzsa Farrell of community group Leithers Don’t Litter said: “It’s great that the clean-up is under way. But it shouldn’t have taken 3,100 people signing a petition to see action.

“There was an agreement ten years ago between Water of Leith 2000, Forth Ports and Edinburgh council about their shared duties, it’s time they agreed these again.

“They also have to sort out the siltation of the basins because it poses a serious flood risk.”

Mrs Farrell said flood flotsam on the Water of Leith is likely to become a more regular occurrence and called on the public to do their bit.

She added: “With the climate crisis, heavy rainfalls like the one that caused the mess will become increasingly common.

“Edinburgh residents are equally responsible for looking after our beautiful river and protecting its wildlife by not littering or dumping stuff.”

Water of Leith 2000 was approached for comment.

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com