Members of the Bressay community are being urged to sign a petition asking Scottish Water to re-think its decision to connect the island to Sandy Loch via a subsea pipe across the north mouth of the harbour.
Improvement plans for Bressay were released in January when it was revealed that the current water treatment works was in need of a complete upgrade to bring it up to standard. Considered options were to refurbish or build a new treatment plant or to lay a 2.6 km pipe across the harbour connecting to the Sandy Loch mains via the tank in the Staney Hill area.
Concern was raised among Bressay residents at that time, some of whom commented in The Shetland Times that they did not want to lose the island’s supply, from the Brough Loch, as it is widely believed to be superior in taste and quality.
Scottish Water spokesman Jason Rose said in the same article that the estimated £870,000 pipeline was “only an option”.
At a community consultation afternoon on 28th May, in the Bressay Hall, Scottish Water stated that they had been granted approval to go ahead with their preferred option of connecting Bressay to the Lerwick supply and would be applying for marine works licences and wayleaves for land work.
A number of residents believe that the other options, which would enable them to keep their own supply, have not been considered fully and have written to their councillors, the local community council and MSP Tavish Scott to look into the matter on their behalf.
Mr Scott said: “Many Bressay folk are concerned about losing their own water. I am concerned that Bressay has been offered only one option which is water from Lerwick. “People are questioning whether Scottish Water’s own consultation procedures have not been followed in allowing people to look at alternatives. I will be writing to Scottish Water asking for clarification on this issue.”
One of the creators of the petition, Katrina Christie, said: “The petition has a simple, but powerful message to Scottish Water: as a community we feel strongly about our local supply and want to keep it. But it’s not simply a matter of refusing change.
“We feel that Scottish Water has made a decision without considering all the options, without considering community feeling and, more importantly, without informing the community.
“There are also issues regarding costs, contingency plans and the capacity of Sandy Loch which must be addressed by Scottish Water – this has gone from just an option to a firm plan in a short space of time and there has been little fair consultation. We have written to our councillors and local MSP asking them to address these on our behalf, also asking for an independent review of the cost of a new treatment works.”
The petition, headed by the slogan “Let’s keep Bressay’s water – pure and simple”, is based at the Mail shop and anybody who wishes to know what else they can do can pick up an information leaflet at the shop or contact Katrina on (01595) 820244 or Louise on (01595) 820362.