SNP accused of inaction as number of sewage dumps in Scotland increases

Discharge of sewage into a river. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)Discharge of sewage into a river. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Discharge of sewage into a river. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Scottish Government has been criticised for an increase in sewage dumps.

The number of spills of sewage into Scottish waterways has increased across 20 local authority areas in a year, figures show.Statistics show that while most council areas have seen a surge in sewage dumps between 2022 and 2023, overall, there was a 10 per cent increase with 21,660 discharges logged. Analysis by Scottish Lib Dems of data from Scottish Water reveals that between 2022 and 2023, Fife experienced the biggest percentage increase in sewage dumps, with the number of dumps almost quadrupling from 213 to 733. There was a huge rise of sewage dumping in Moray, with the number increasing by 117.5 per cent.Argyll & Bute experienced the highest number of sewage dumps with 3,768 in 2023. Sewage dumps in South Lanarkshire totalled 3,111 in 2023, while the number of dumps in Dumfries & Galloway tallied 2,397 and lasted 24,682 hours.The Lib Dems have stressed the figures are likely to be underestimated because the party’s research found there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all in three local authorities - Dundee, East Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh. In ten more local authorities, just one or two more sites are monitored.Scottish Water has pledged to deliver 1,000 additional monitors by the end of 2024, but this will still mean less than half of the Scottish network will be monitored.Scottish Lib Dems leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said: “Communities across Scotland will be alarmed by such big upticks in sewage dumps. SNP and Green ministers haven’t lifted a finger to address this scandal. Instead, they sit idle while our rivers, coastlines and waterways take a battering.“The true scale of the problem is likely a lot worse because very few sewage pipes are properly monitored. While ministers hide the dirtier reality, the government-owned water company is hiking its prices for customers and rewarding its executives with bumper bonuses.”Professor Simon Parsons, director of environment, planning and assurance at Scottish Water, said: “We recognise releasing waste water, even occasionally, into Scotland’s rivers and seas is a concern to people and we are playing our part in fully informing the public, as well as improving infrastructure, alongside our regulator SEPA.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is important to note that overflows from sewers are wastewater which has been highly diluted by rainwater, and which normally consists of less than 1 per cent toilet waste.

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“SEPA assesses 87 per cent of waterbodies in Scotland as having ‘high’ or ‘good’ water quality, up from 82 per cent six years ago. This means our rivers and coastal waters are overall in good ecological condition, but we are not complacent, and continue to work closely with SEPA and Scottish Water to monitor and improve water quality.

Scottish LibDems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton (Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)Scottish LibDems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton (Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)
Scottish LibDems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton (Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire)

“Scottish Water is taking action and is committing up to £500m to improve water quality, increase monitoring of the highest priority waters and tackle debris and spills. This includes a commitment to install at least 1000 new monitors on the network by the end of 2024 – good progress is being made, with around 800 having already been installed by the end of March.”



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