New agreement to avoid repeat of 'sea of rubbish' in Edinburgh's Water of Leith

Council says accord will address removal of litter, detritus and vegetation

Storms in June resulted in flotsam gathering at The Shore
Storms in June resulted in flotsam gathering at The Shore

A NEW agreement is being drawn up on clearing debris from the Water of Leith in a bid to avoid a repeat of the row this summer when a “sea of rubbish” was allowed to build up.

After weeks of argument about who was responsible for removing the flotsam at The Shore, the city council and the dock owners Forth Ports split the £12,000 cost of the clear-up, while criticising Water of Leith 2000, which owns the basin, for not playing its part.

Water of Leith 2000 are involved in the new agreement, along with Forth Ports, Water of Leith Conservation Trust and Friends of the Water of Leith Basin.

The council and Forth Ports jointly footed the clean-up bill.

The council said it had been acknowledged that the agreement should address the accumulation of litter, detritus and vegetation and its removal and that the maintenance of the basin was key to the wider management of the Water of Leith.

“Responsibilities will be specified in detail in the new agreement, also taking into account the involvement of additional voluntary groups and private land owners,” the council added. A report is expected to be considered by the transport and environment committee in December.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “I am pleased we are moving forward with an agreement to manage the Water of Leith basin. Our blue space is hugely important to the local community and environmentally significant to the variety of wildlife living and nesting there.

“As we saw over the summer, it’s essential that all relevant parties pull together to ensure the safety and amenity of this area, and I’m confident that this agreement will ensure we each take responsibility for its care, as part of the wider management of the Water of Leith.


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“The partnership approach we’re agreeing will ensure that our blue space in Leith is protected and maintained, whatever the weather throws at us.”

Storms in June swept rubbish down the Water of Leith and it collected in the basin outside cafes, bars and restaurants at The Shore because a boom prevents it from entering the docks beyond. Residents and businesses complained it was an eyesore.

Helen Brown, trust manager of the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, said they were happy to work with others to keep the river clean, green and beautiful. She said: “The removal of rubbish, especially plastics, is very important to prevent the litter washed downstream ending up in the oceans, and this is what we will be focusing on with our volunteers.”

Forth Ports chief executive Charles Hammond said: “The Water of Leith is a shared community asset and Forth Ports is pleased to play our role, along with others, in this partnership.”