Sewage expert axed ahead of crucial decisions on Seafield

Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield Sewage works. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Rob Kirkwood at the Seafield Sewage works. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A SEWAGE expert who provided independent technical advice to residents battling against the notorious Seafield stench has been axed by Scottish Water – just ahead of discussions on a major strategic review of the treatment works

Professor Rob Jackson was paid by the water authority to protect the community’s interests over measures to combat smells from the Seafield plant for the past 15 years.

But now he has been told his services are no longer required.

Rob Kirkwood, of Leith Links Residents Association, said Professor Jackson’s sacking came at a time when the community needed his expertise more than ever.

And he said residents were shocked at the move. “They are trying to make the community technically blind at a crucial moment when big decisions will be made on what technical solutions will be adopted to solve the smell issue,” he 
said.

“In the past when similar decisions were made on how much money to throw at Seafield the community was conned with cheap solutions that didn’t work. That’s because we didn’t understand the complex technical details being discussed. And we fear that’s what is going to happen again now.”

Seafield, operated by Veolia Water on behalf of Scottish Water, has caused odour problems for nearby residents for decades.

The strategic review was ordered by Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham after weeks of odour complaints last summer.

It has outlined short, medium and long-term options for action.

Mr Kirkwood said: “We have no real idea which ones they ought to choose. With a technically blind community Scottish Water are able to lead us down all sorts of wrong pathways.”

Mr Kirwood pointed out Professor Jackson’s dismissal came shortly after a meeting of stakeholders where he hailed comments by a legal expert that the city council had been misinterpreting the code of conduct for years as “a game-changer”.

Mr Kirkwood said: “They have been trying to get rid of him for years because the message he has consistently delivered is that the crap professional practices of Scottish and Veolia Water are primarily responsible for the continuing odours in our community.”

Professor Jackson said he believed the decision to end his involvement was linked to his comments at the meeting. “They were not happy with what I said.” But he said the residents now faced having no expert advice at a crucial time.

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said: “We are looking to implement the recommendations from the recently published Seafield WWTW Strategic Odour Review. As part of this process we are fully committed to continuing to consult, support and keep all stakeholders informed as we progress.

“The specialist technical odour advice provided by Professor Jackson over the years has been very much appreciated in getting us to this position and we thank him for his input.

“The next phases of the work will see us move from investigative to implementation work at Seafield and the wider network and will form part of the development of our wider Edinburgh waste water strategy.”