Greens call for rethink over Forth sewage spill

As millions of litres of untreated sewage pour into the Firth of Forth Greens call for an urgent investigation into the Private Finance Initiative managed Seafield plant.

The Scottish Green Party today reacted with dismay to the news that widespread sewage has spilt into the Firth of Forth. The party is demanding urgent investment at Seafield to ensure there is no repeat incident, and says questions have to be asked about the PFI scheme that was used to install and manage the treatment facilities on site.

Green party Holyrood candidate Mark Ballard said;

“Clearly this puts human health at risk. I’m also very concerned about the potentially devastating effect that millions of litres of untreated sewage could have on the environment of the Firth of Forth. The Firth is home to a rich variety of wildlife, and the area is a European Special Protection Area for birds.

“Local people have been worried about the operation of Seafield sewage works for several years. Just last weekend I joined residents from Leith Links to protest about the stench from this sewage works. They feel imprisoned in their homes by the failure of successive Scottish Executive ministers and Scottish Water to deal with the problem.

“Seafield sewage works is one of the Scottish Executive’s flagship PFI projects. This huge spill into the Forth must raises serious concerns about the way the plant has been funded, managed and operated under the 30-year private contract. Investment is urgently needed at Seafield to stop a repeat of this serious spillage. Untreated sewage must never again end up in the Forth.�

Chas Booth, Green Party candidate for Leith in the local elections, added:

“This leak adds insult to injury for local residents, who have had to put up with years of the “Seafield stink”. Thames Water must now explain how this leak happened, why it took so long to inform local residents and how they will make sure such leaks never happen again.”

Rob Kirkwood of Leith Links Residents’ Association, which has been campaigning against problems at the plant for six years, said:

“When local residents rang the plant on Friday and again on Saturday to complain about the stink, they were told there was a problem, but not what it was. People should clearly have been told to stay out of the Forth for their own safety, and Scottish Water have serious questions to answer about their responsibility to the public.

“The primary treatment plant is medieval, the worst performing sewage plant in the Western world, with a modern secondary plant clumsily added onto it. When the PFI management took over, they scrapped the night teams who used to deal with this kind of accident, and now, after 4pm there’s only ever one person on site. What’s more, all the experienced staff left the site when the PFI contract came in, and new, unqualified staff were recruited.

“We need massive investment in the site, the same sort of investment that similar sewage plants elsewhere are receiving, and we need proper oversight and enforcement over the site. We’ve been telling the Labour and Lib Dem Executive for six years that that this plant is a disaster waiting to happen. Local residents have had enough of their inaction.”

Notes

1. Information about last week’s protest is available here: https://www.edinburghgreens.org.uk/press-coverage/seafield/