The sewage works at Havoc/Ardoch are sited below the cliff at Westcliff in Dumbarton.

By Bill Heaney

It used to be the distillery that caused an awful stink, but it’s the sewage works at Havoc that is causing the bad smell these days.

The terrible odour, which is not caused by any spirits distilling process but by human waste brought there in tankers has recorded “events” at the sewage works which are sited alongside the Dumbarton-Helensburgh railway line beneath Westcliff has recorded events that lasted for more than 700 consecutive hours.

Now, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, left,  has today demanded that the Scottish Government ramp up sewage monitoring.

And to take action to relieve the pressure on Scotland’s Victorian sewer system as analysis of new figures from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency highlighted a 30% increase in the number of sewage overflow events.

There were thousands of occasions when the volume of sewage overflowing into Scottish waterways was not logged.

The figures show that in 2022 alone:

• 14,008 discharges were logged, up from 10,799 incidents in 2021.

• The volume of sewage overflows recorded was 47.1 million cubic meters, up from 34.9 million cubic metres in 2021. That’s the equivalent of 18,845 Olympic swimming pools.

• In more than half of cases (7,217) either no record of the volume discharged was provided or it was not required to be provided.

• An overflow event at Biggar in South Lanarkshire lasted for more than 70 days.

• Waste Water Treatment Works at Biggar, Ardoch and Larbert all recorded events that lasted for more than 700 consecutive hours.

• There were 76 occasions on which overflow events lasted for more than a week.

• The largest recorded overflow was at Shieldhall in Glasgow, with 2,653,361 cubic metres discharged, the equivalent of 1,060 Olympic swimming pools.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is absolutely disgusting. Every SNP representative for an area where this is happening should hang their heads in shame.

“At the moment in England almost every sewage overflow is monitored but in Scotland it’s only a small fraction. That means the true situation is probably far worse.

“The new Environment Secretary needs to ensure monitoring is ramped up so we get a true picture.

“We need an acceleration of measures to upgrade Scotland’s Victorian sewage systems and prevent almost 19,000 Olympic pools worth of sewage from flowing into our rivers and onto our beaches.”

  • There are 3,614 overflows in Scotland’s 31,000-mile sewer network, but only 144 (4%) are currently monitored. This in contrast to England, which has 14,470 overflows of which 12,700 are monitored (89%).

Top picture: Children playing near sewage on a beach at one of the West Coast’s best known holiday spots.

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