Bats threaten water work

A COLONY of bats could delay plans to provide Glasgow with safe drinking water.

Hundreds of the creatures have been found on the site earmarked for a 100 million water treatment plant and Scottish Water will now have to apply for a licence to fell 13 trees used by the protected species to make way for the project.

The need for the new treatment facility was highlighted last August, when water supplies to 150,000 people in Glasgow were contaminated with the cryptosporidium bug.

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But Scottish Water faces a 5,000 fine if it cuts down the trees - used by 400 pipistrelle, Daubentons, brown long-eared and Natteres bats - to make way for its new filtration system without a licence from the Scottish Executive.

The Mugdock Association, which represents the interests of residents, has vowed to fight to save the bats.

Last August, the group successfully fought against the original plans for the plant, claiming it would spoil their quality of life and impinge on the amenity value of the area.

Rejecting the recommendations of their planning officials, East Dunbartonshire councillors agreed with residents and threw the plans out.

Revised plans were submitted by Scottish Water just three months later, and the size of the treatment works building has been reduced by 30 per cent, while the roof has also been lowered.

Last month, Dr Harry Burns, the director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow, also urged the approval of the updated plant.

In a letter to planning officials, he said: "Unless Mugdock water is filtered, I cannot give any guarantees that significant disruptions to domestic supplies will not be repeated."

But the revelation of the site’s nocturnal inhabitants may now further stall the process.

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Advocates for Animals, an animal rights group, will also call on the Executive to refuse the application for a licence.

Scottish Natural Heritage, the conservation agency, has not objected to Scottish Water’s proposals.