Fountainbridge is poised to lead way on sewage energy

Picture: Scott Louden
Picture: Scott Louden
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THE only thing of interest that flowed through the pipes for years was beer at the old Tartan Club.

But now, as Fountainbridge undergoes a once in a generation change with schools, offices and more, there is a new idea on tap.

Picture: Scott Louden

Picture: Scott Louden

Environmental groups and city planners are looking at how to use the huge sewage network underground to generate heat and energy.

READ MORE: Edinburgh car parking rate rise branded ‘highway robbery’

And they say if the technology can be made to work, it could save the community thousands as well as drastically reducing carbon emissions.

The site-wide district heating system has been discussed before. It almost made it into the agenda some years ago, but fell short during organisational changes of city projects.

Now, though, a recent meeting has revived the idea.

Reports commissioned for the scheme suggest the old brewery site could be made to deliver energy and carbon savings of around 26 per cent.

That would allow the likes of Boroughmuir High School – which moves into the site on Wednesday – and other developers to plug in.

The technology has already been proven elsewhere, with Scottish Water winning a gong for delivering Britain’s first heat-from-sewage system in the Borders.

The success was such that it earned them the 2017 Scottish Green Energy Award for Best Innovation.

That groundbreaking project now sees it supply Scottish Borders College with most of its annual heating and hot water demands, saving not just cost, but 150 tonnes per carbon.

They said at the time a “wider potential roll-out” was being considered.

Now the Evening News understands that could include the site at Fountainbridge after talks six weeks ago put it firmly back on the agenda as the city looks to up its game on the 
environment.

If so, local Green councillor Gavin Corbett said that could spell a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Edinburgh to lead major cities in the UK on creating real sustainable 
development.

He said: “The old brewery sites at Fountainbridge are a unique opportunity to create a landmark new neighbourhood right by the canal: with a mix of homes, workplaces, public space and community facilities.

“That unique opportunity extends to the way the development is built and managed.

“Throughout Europe developments like this would have district heating as standard, where heat is supplied to all users from one energy centre, with massive reductions in bills and pollution.

“Here in Fountainbridge, it can be even more cutting edge, with the prospect of drawing heat from a major sewer pipe: quite literally turning waste into energy gold.

“The council and neighbouring businesses need to grab this opportunity with both hands.”

From a technology point of view, early indications are said to have proven favourable for the site, with flow being large enough to accommodate a heat exchanger to clean the water which then sees its temperature raised and distributed.

Janet Jones, who has been campaigning on the issue with Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative as joint secretary, said the move could turn money going down the drain through wastage into cash in the hand for locals.

Research and studies she has seen indicate that the plans could deliver energy for more than 750 homes at the site of the old Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, using the same kind of technology now working in Galashiels.

She said: “The benefits for everyone are huge.

“Heat which would otherwise go to waste can be used to heat the entire development. Not only that, but existing buildings in the area can also link in – like the new Boroughmuir School and developments around Lochrin 
Basin.”

Anna Christopherson, owner of Akva Bar on the Basin, part of the Swedish bar/restaurant chain BodaBar, also appeared passionate about the prospect of doing more for the environment with the scheme, and said: “This is the way forward.”

ECO EVENTS

Surfers Against Sewage is launching its biggest ever Big Spring Beach Clean between April 7-15 in association with the Environment Agency

They aim to clean up the UK’s most-loved beaches and rivers – including in Edinburgh and the Lothians – 
which have become overrun with plastic pollution.

And they are call for volunteers to nominate areas to be included and register their own interest in taking part at beachcleans@sas.org.uk.

ECO VOLUNTEERS

THE Scottish Seabird Centre is looking to appoint a future conservation leader to its board of trustees.

They say the move has been prompted by Scotland’s Year of Young People.

Now the centre wants to hear from people aged between 18 and 35 years old with a passion for conservation, environmental education and wildlife tourism.

CVs and covering letter for the post should be sent to info@seabird.org no later than noon this coming Friday.

ECO DEBATE

MountaineerING Scotland plans to protest outside Holyrood this Wednesday about fears over windfarm developments.

They plan to raise concerns along with the John Muir Trust and some MSPs calling for better protection for mountain areas and wild lands. And they will call to protect some areas from major commercial developments during the protest that begins at 12.30pm.

It comes before a draft Scottish Planning Bill is reviewed on February 28.

ECO HEROES

GLOWRIDERS have signed up for the Sunday, March 4 ride to celebrate the city’s 20mph limit rollout.

The event will see bikes adorned with LED lights riding three miles from the City Chambers to promote safe cycle use and the knock-on effect of encouraging people to ditch their cars for active travel.

You can sign up at the Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/edinburgh-glowride-tickets-42946063833

ECO ZEROES

Litterbug’s debris made for a filthy swamp-like journey for the swan (pictured) as it foraged for food around Rennie’s isle at Leith Docks.

The bird found itself surrounded by discarded cans, bottles, and trash that gathered around a boom in place to trap junk.

Forth Ports said it accumulated from Water of Leith and they catch and dispose of it responsibly.

Aspokesman from Forth Ports said: “There are booms in place to collect the rubbish accumulated from the whole length of the Water of Leith.

“The booms are doing their job, allowing the debris to be collected and removed in the most suitable manner rather than the debris being dispersed over a larger water course.

“Forth Ports takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and works with all relevant parties to dispose of the rubbish.”