10 Jun 2005

51 Haughs

North East Scotland Green MSP Shiona Baird has today (Thursday) urged politicians to join her in calling for an urgent rethink of proposals by Scottish Water to discharge minimally screened sewage directly into the North Sea at Haugh’s Bay as part of its proposed new waste water system for the Mearns coastal villages of Johnshaven, Gourdon, Inverbervie and St. Cyrus.

The proposed scheme would entail only preliminary screening for non-biodegradable solids, as opposed to primary or secondary treatment, and Ms Baird has expressed serious concerns that this will fall well short of acceptable standards and will fail to meet stringent new European guidelines which are due to take effect from December 2005.

Pledging her support for local residents in their campaign to secure appropriately upgraded waste water treatment facilities for their village communities, she said:

"Local residents are understandably outraged by these proposals and, given the devastating environmental impact of discharging what is effectively raw sewage into the North Sea, I am amazed that such a scheme ever warranted consideration. I want to know why our coastal waters are not being properly protected from this sort of pollution and will fight tooth and nail to ensure more suitable treatment facilities are put in place to serve these communities. In a civilised society this is no more than residents deserve.

"I am concerned that too many questions remain unanswered and will be doing everything I can to support the local campaign group in their efforts to highlight the potential problems and secure proper sewage treatment facilities. At the very least, there should be a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, a hydrodynamic survey and a marine scientific survey in respect of this project. It should then only be permitted to proceed if it can be demonstrated beyond doubt that public health, the fishing industry, the local economy and the area’s unique environment and amenities will not be jeopardised.

"I will continue to voice my disquiet with Scottish Water and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), but I have meanwhile highlighted this issue in the Scottish Parliament as I am sure many of my MSP colleagues will be equally concerned about the impact of such a short-sighted and environmentally damaging scheme."