19th November 2017

No raw sewage from Gulberwick, Scottish Water assures residents

Scottish Water has denied claims that raw sewage is being pumped into the sea at Gulberwick following problems with the pump station in the area.

The water authority has issued a statement after concerns were raised by construction firm DITT, which has warned its new Heathery Park development has been left facing possible hold-ups.

Scottish Water said any treatment which was being discharged was “fully treated” and “regulatory compliant”.

The Gulberwick and Quarff Community Council had learned that the repairs could take up to two years to complete.

The matter was brought to the community council’s clerk, Kerry Geddes, by DITT.

In an email sent to community council members, Mrs Geddes stated: “I have just been contacted by Neil Fraser of DITT. They have met with Scottish Water today as there is a hold-up with their Heathery Park development – they can not connect to the pump station in Gulberwick as it has broken.

“The raw sewage is being pumped directly out into the bay and they are not going to be able to fix it for two years.”

The matter is due to be discussed by the community council at its meeting next month.

Speaking to this newspaper, community council chairman Graham Malcolmson said the issue was of grave concern.

“DITT contacted our clerk Kerry Geddes with the issue.

“It hasn’t been discussed at a meeting obviously but it is going to be at the next one.

“We will certainly be lobbying Scottish Water. I think Sepa will be lobbying Scottish Water, so we will probably seek some clarification prior to the meeting.

“I will probably follow up on Kerry’s email and ask her to write a strong letter to Scottish Water asking what the position is.”

Mr Fraser, of DITT, said the news had implications for its 16-house Heathery Park development in the area, which was due to begin in the Spring of next year.

“If they don’t sort this out we could see a significant delay,” he said.

“We’re hoping to start in the Spring of next year and now they’re telling us we we can’t make any connection to that sewer until it is repaired.”

Mr Fraser said architects and designers from DITT had met with operators from Scottish Water, who said the pump station was broken and repairs would be completed in two years.

“Two years was mentioned, but for Gulberwick, that’s not acceptable.”

He added he had since spoken to Scottish Water’s strategic development manager, Mark Hunter, who had told him it would “take some time” to answer the question of how long it would take.

But a statement from an un-named spokesman at Scottish Water said: “No raw sewage is being pumped into Gulberwick Bay (sic) and any effluent discharged at the outfall at this location is fully treated and regulatory compliant.

“There has been an issue with pumps at the pumping station in Gulberwick but an alternative treatment system was quickly put in place.

“Sewage is held in a septic tank and treated, with additional screening on the outfall, before any effluent is discharged.

“Tankers are also on location daily to carry out desludging of the septic tank.

“Scottish Water is in dialogue with developers and we are currently looking at what options might be available to help ensure long term growth for the area can be facilitated.

“A permanent solution, which will take into consideration future development, is in the process of being designed and delivered and this will be done as quickly as possible.”

Sepa said in a statement it was aware of concerns from members of the public regarding sewage at Gulberwick, and was taking the reports “seriously”.

“We are in contact with Scottish Water regarding this issue and have attended the site today to carry out a full investigation. We have confirmed that there is no visible sign of pollution and that there is no ongoing discharge of untreated sewage into the bay.”

Sepa is also urging members of the public to contact its pollution hotline on 0800 807060 if they become aware of any potential pollution events.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

View other stories by »

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.