By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today questioned why sewage is regularly being discharged into sites with special environmental protections in place and called on the First Minister to intervene.
In the Scottish Parliament, Mr Cole-Hamilton MSP has today challenged the First Minister in Parliament over sewage discharges in Scotland’s waterways and called on the government to introduce the first legally-binding targets to tackle these sewage dumps.
He said: “The problem for the First Minister is that despite the money he has identified for those extra monitors, 70% of all dumping pipes would still go unobserved. Whereas, in England, every single pipe is due to be monitored by the end of this year. When will we catch up?
“Look at what we’ve discovered in the last few weeks. Human waste dumped around best loved beaches, wetlands of international importance and special protection areas, from Shetland to the Clyde.
“And the First Minister should take particular interest in the most used sewage dumping outlet in Scotland.
“That recorded 127 releases last year – that’s enough to run 100 million baths.
“He will know the site well, because it is on the bank of the Clyde in his own Glasgow Pollok constituency. Perhaps that’s why he moved to Broughty Ferry?
“So, can I ask the First Minister, will he commit today to the introduction of legally-binding targets to tackle sewage dumping?”
Earlier, it was revealed that an analysis of freedom of information requests submitted by Scottish Liberal Democrats suggests that at least 11 Sites of Special Scientific interest (SSSI), 4 Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR) and 6 Special Protection Areas (SPA) have sewage overflowing into them from at least 18 sewage outflow points.
The sites affected include the Inner Clyde, Hamilton Low Parks, Calder Glen, Endrick Water, Upper Solway Flats and Marshes and the Solway Firth, Longman and Castle Stuart Bays, Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary, Firth of Forth, Nigg Bay, Rosehearty to Fraserburgh Coast, the River Tweed, the Inner Moray Firth, North Orkney and Shetland’s East Mainland Coast.
In total 7.6 million cubic metres of sewage was discharged at these sites alone in 2022, the equivalent of more than 3,000 Olympic swimming pools.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, pictured right, said: “Scotland is world famous for its beautiful outdoors and its fascinating biodiversity, but these figures suggest that at a host of scientifically significant sites such as rivers and lakes, sewage is discharged into the natural environment.
“What’s more, this is almost certainly a significant understatement, because less than 1 in 20 discharge pipes are actually monitored.
“The First Minister has made a personal commitment to look into the health of Scotland’s waterways.
“The first step will be to get a handle on the scale of the problem. Humza Yousaf needs to give a commitment that Scottish Water will record and publish details on every sewage dump, not just the limited numbers that are currently recorded.”
Top picture: The sewage strewn shore at Arrochar on Loch Long, Argyllshire