Inkster blames Scottish Water for laying pipes too shallow after Hamnavoe flood

Around 30 houses lost their water supply after a digger broke a water main above Duke Street in Hamnavoe, Burra, on Saturday afternoon.

Householders below the street used battons and sandbags to divert the water that had flooded gardens and was coursing down the hill and along the road.

Ironically, the flood was caused by a digger that had been ditching in a field next to a house to divert water away from the property.

Householder and digger driver Ali Inkster, who owns Andrew Halcrow’s shop in Hamnavoe, said the hired digger crushed the plastic water main which was buried only 300mm on top of rock. A rock lying on top of the pipe broke it when he drove the digger over it.

He said: “The water main was not buried deep enough. I was digging a field drain, but I did not dig it up. It was the digger on top of the water pipe that crushed it.”

Scottish water have sent Mr Inkster a letter saying he will be liable for the cost of repairs, but have not yet sent him a bill.

Scottish Water declined to comment on the cost of the repairs but said that the flood had been caused by a “third party”.

The company stated: “We will always advise customers in advance of any planned work that may impact them such as an interruption to the water supply.

“The loss of supply in Hamnavoe on Saturday (19th) was the result of third party damage to a water main.

“We swiftly carried out a repair and supplies to the 30 or so properties affected by the burst were restored soon after.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience this emergency repair work may have caused.”

But an unrepentant Mr Inkster said that it was all the fault of the water supplier as the pipes were not buried deep enough.

According to him, water pipes should be buried 800mm deep. He had exposed more of the pipework and some of it was only eight inches below the surface.

Mr Inkster said he phoned Scottish Water on an 0845 number around 1pm to alert them of the flood but the water board did not contact anyone in Shetland. When he phoned back he was advised that the job had been put on a list.

When there was no sign of anyone turning up from Scottish Water he contacted someone locally who used to work for the water board and also a couple of water engineers.

After that, workmen arrived to tackle the job. None of them, Mr Inkster claimed, had been contacted by the control centre hundreds of miles away.

Once the engineers started work, it only took an hour to fix the leak and the water was back on sometime around 5pm.

Mr Inkster, who is a vociferous Wir Shetland supporter and virulent contributor to social media platforms, said the flood was all the fault of centralisation and that is was another thing “we can thank da f***** Scotty for. Du can quote me on dat,” he said.


Add Your Comment
  • james pearson

    • March 26th, 2016 23:04

    Inkster is right, the pipe was layed at the wrong depth, They cant have been following any kind of common sense laying that one, just whack it in and hope for the best is cheepest, what if the land owner wanted to cultivate to grow crops i think he would be in for a surprise just getting his rotavater across the near exposed pipe, dangerous that.

  • Giles Decourcey

    • March 27th, 2016 11:30

    I’m sure nobody following this article is thinking towards Up Helly Aa.


  • Ray Purchase

    • March 27th, 2016 11:55

    Instead of digging through those pipes would Ali not have been ‘better aff clear o da lot o dem?’

  • iantinkler

    • March 27th, 2016 13:05

    I just hope the electricity main is a bit deeper. The previous tenant of my croft burnt through/melted the armoured feeder cable to the house with a bomb fire.

  • Robert Sim

    • March 27th, 2016 15:27

    I’m wondering what the Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise was doing messing about with water pipes on Burra.

  • Ali Inkster

    • March 27th, 2016 21:05

    First lets correct a few details. My comment that this is da fault o da scoti ( or wirds ta dat effect 🙂 ) was and is due to the fact that a decision made sooth to centralise da water board and handle all business through a centralised facility is causing problems not just here in da isles but all ower Scotland as well. Well over 2 hours from my first contacting scottish water went by and they still had not contacted anyone in Shetland. When questioned as to why they claimed that the network was down in the area and they had been unable to contact the duty engineer, this was after claiming it could take the engineer over 2 hours to reach me due to the distance involved. This system which has been in place for quite a few years has no resilience built in to cope with a network fault. Since the engineers arrived on site within half an hour of being contacted locally by phone and they isolated and dealt with the break quickly I can only say there would have been no significant flooding had scottish water had a number locally that put you directly through to the duty engineer. What lessons can be learned when we are facing the centralising of our emergency services in the same fashion? What will happen when one of these mysterious network failures occurs where I can contact the person concerned but the centralised network operator can’t, when it is the police or the fire service or an ambulance we require urgently?

    • Robin Stevenson

      • March 28th, 2016 13:16

      Fear ye not Ali

      The next time you fancy doing a bit of digging, I’d recommend informing ALL services, and have them on stand-by [just in case?]

      Perhaps, once WIR Shetland is fully up and running along with Tavish’s ‘A’ team, you can re-trench every pipe and wire on the Islands, while at the same time take up kite flying in the hope of clogging up all these damned windmills?… 🙂

      • Ali Inkster

        • March 28th, 2016 21:59

        So how long do you think they should have left it before contacting the engineer Wrobin?

  • Robert Sim

    • March 28th, 2016 7:34

    “Mr Inkster, who is a vociferous Wir Shetland supporter and virulent contributor to social media platforms, said the flood was all the fault of centralisation and that is was another thing “we can thank da f***** Scotty for. Du can quote me on dat,” he said.”

    Mr Inskster is more than a “supporter” of WS – he is a committee member, according to the WS website. So is his reference to “da f***** Scotty” – and he did want to be quoted – indicative of WS’s views towards the rest of Scotland and its population? Perhaps the ubiquitous Chair of WS will tell us.

    While I am here, I don’t think it will help Mr Inkster’s mood if he looks up the meaning of “virulent” as used in the article.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 28th, 2016 12:49

      This was a private matter, Robert, and Mr Inkster was expressing a personal opinion, nothing to do with WIr Shetland. He has explained the intent of his poorly-articulated, early morning comment above.

      Mr Inkster does not speak for Wir Shetland, I do.

      On a personal level, I have lived among Scots for many years and hold them in high regard, as I do, also, the English, Welsh and Northern Irish.

      If Wir Shetland held any other collective view, I would be, neither, chairman nor a member of it.

      • ROBERT SIM

        • March 28th, 2016 17:12

        Thanks for your prompt answer. Just one wee thing puzzles me. You say that “Mr Inkster does not speak for Wir Shetland, I do.” But I see Duncan Simpson elsewhere in this forum clearly speaking for WS. Does he know that WS only has one spokesperson?

  • Derick Tulloch

    • March 29th, 2016 7:47

    In a Crown Dependency Shetland all the former fishermen and oil workers unemployed due to the inevitable 12 mile enclave Shetland waters will spend half their time importing topsoil so all utilities can be laid deep enough to be safe from amateur digger drivers.

    The other half of the time they will be busy learning Norwegian.

    Boys a Greenlaund! I doot wir fairly lookin forward ta seeing Ali campaigning fur ‘Scotty’ Scott! Hahaha

    PS Tulloch is a Scottish surname derived from the Gaelic tulach “small hill”.

    PPS Tavish is also a Gaelic name.

    • John Tulloch

      • March 29th, 2016 10:27

      But they won’t have Gaelic rammed down their throats, will they, Derick! 🙂

      I’ve told you before Wir Shetland would be unable to recommend any offer to voters that isn’t good for Shetland.

      Sad to see such bitterness from an expat Shetlander who has obviously lost all caring for the interests of his former home in favour of his new one.

      Is that really the best argument central belt SNP can put up against Wir Shetland?

      • Derick Tulloch

        • March 29th, 2016 12:20

        I’ll say wan thing fur Wir Shetland.

        You do provide an endless supply o unintentional humour!

        I wis troo Arrochar yesterday as it happens. Horizontal sleet an 3 degrees on da tap oda Rest and Be Thankful. Brawly gurly. I should a stoppit along Wir Water Pipes HQ fur a cup a Central Belt tae

      • John Tulloch

        • March 29th, 2016 13:38

        Im a Shetlan, Derick, so im soarry, du widna a gotten een.

      • Ray Purchase

        • March 29th, 2016 17:40

        Maybe it wasn’t a pipe bursting in Burra but the population’s response to Wir Shetland’s latest pronouncement on their behalf.

  • iantinkler

    • March 29th, 2016 10:44

    I love the origin of Derick, Especially the English bit, lol, Whoop, whoop!!!
    Derick, Etymology : Variant of DEREK
    Origin : English

    • iantinkler

      • March 29th, 2016 11:16

      I assume racial cleansing would be a no, no in an indy Scotland, Derick?


Add 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 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.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.