THE opening of a multi-million-pound public park on Edinburgh's waterfront has been postponed indefinitely because of contamination in its burn and other water features.
Developers behind the attraction in Granton are furious at having to pull the plug on an official unveiling next week at just a few days' notice after the water quality failed a series of tests.
National Grid Property has spent years creating the 20-acre park as part of its transformation of the former Granton gasworks site, but it is thought that untreated sewage is now flowing into the burn.
The Scotsman understands that Scottish Water was alerted to the situation as far back as eight years ago, when plans for the development – which has included the creation of a new base for Scottish Gas and Telford College's new headquarters – were taking shape.
Scottish Water says it is working with the developer to sort out the cause of the pollution.
The park features more than 1,000 trees, 15,000 shrubs and new grassland equivalent to about ten football pitches. It has its own nature reserve with a viewing platform over the water. Most of the features were put in place two years ago to give them time to take shape.
The BBC TV nature expert Chris Packham had been lined up to unveil the park next week, with dozens of schoolchildren also offered a sneak preview on the day.
However, it is thought that National Grid discovered only this week that the water quality would not be safe enough to open up the fenced-off park.
One insider said: "Obviously, health and safety has to take top priority, but we've been urging action from Scottish Water about this for years, never mind months.
"This has been a matter of continuing concern to us, but we believed all the problems had been addressed by Scottish Water," the insider said. "Now, though, it appears that untreated sewage is entering the water system upstream."
A National Grid spokesman, Mark Rylance, said: "We understand that people are really looking forward to making the most of the opportunities the new park offers. The current issues originate off-site and are not linked to the development at Granton, so we are working with Scottish Water to allow the park to open as soon as possible."
A spokesman for Scottish Water said: "We've been liaising closely with our environmental regulator, Sepa, and National Grid regarding this water feature, which has been artificially created by modifying a small urban burn that takes the surface water drain-off from a catchment almost a quarter the size of Edinburgh.
"Scottish Water has carried out extensive investigations on the waste-water network. We continually monitor the quality of this burn and we will continue to work closely with National Grid and Sepa to identify any potential pollution issue."
Sepa said that it was aware of the contamination and that it was involved in ongoing investigations.
The local councillor, Elizabeth Maginnis, said: "The whole situation is obviously very frustrating and disappointing for people in the area.
"This is a prestigious new park in the heart of landmark development on Edinburgh's waterfront.
"I've driven past the entrance to the park a number of times and it looks beautiful, so the sooner it is opened up the better," said Ms Maginnis.