Residents hail Holyrood pledge to end notorious Seafield stench

Robert Kirkwood from the Leith Links Residents' Association outside the Seafield Sewage plant.
Robert Kirkwood from the Leith Links Residents' Association outside the Seafield Sewage plant.
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RESIDENTS who have been complaining for two decades about the notorious Seafield stench say a Scottish Government promise of action on the sewage works is a victory for their campaign.

But they are calling for a community representative to be involved in drawing up the plans amid fears the authorities will go for a cheap option which will not solve the problem.

The Programme for Government, launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday, included an indication ministers are ready to invest in the plant.

It said: “We have identified that the sewerage systems serving Edinburgh and the surrounding area are facing particular challenges which will be exacerbated by the prospective population growth in the area and climate change.

“A recent study has shown how the performance of the main treatment works at Seafield is impacted by events elsewhere on the network. It is vital that a sound strategy is developed to meet these challenges and ensure that in future the networks operate efficiently and support the continuing economic growth of the area. We have therefore asked Scottish Water to work with local authorities in the area and SEPA to review future waste water treatment needs in the area in order to guide future investment planning.”

Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, said the announcement was welcome. He said: “It is a significant victory for the 20-year campaign we have been engaged in.

“Everyone is pleasantly surprised something is going to happen. The fly in the ointment is that the discussions about what needs to be done are going to take place between the government, Scottish Water, local authorities and SEPA.

“The last time they got together after agreeing 
something needed to be done they chose the cheapest option, even though industry experts told them it wouldn’t work. The worry we have is the same will happen again.”

A review published last year gave a long list of short-, medium- and long-term options, including redevelopment of the entire site or even relocating the plant away from any centre of population.

Mr Kirkwood said: “We would like to see the site moved or else a fully-enclosed sewage works. Anything else is likely to leave us where we are.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We, and Scottish Water in particular, will welcome people’s views as we work on developing a surface and waste water strategy for the Edinburgh region, which includes Seafield. Scottish Water have regular meetings with stakeholders.”