SEPA maintains objection to Moray homes plan

Fresh plans to transform a former auction site and waste land in Moray into a housing complex have failed to address flooding concerns from Scotland’s environmental body.

ANM Group has lodged plans to build more than 100 homes and restaurant at the site on Elgin’s Linkwood Road.

The former mart has been dogged by flooding concerns, which previously caused Sainsbury’s to pull plans for a supermarket and petrol station due to “complex drainage issues”.

Now The Press & Journal has reported that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has maintained an objection to the new proposals despite an attempt from engineers Fairhurst, on behalf of ANM, to ease concerns.

Moray Council has also objected to the development on flooding grounds due it having “no proposals” to reduce the risk that could be created by raising the land.

Elgin City South councillor John Divers said residents were entitled to be concerned about the development.

He said: “Linkwood Road and New Elgin Road are often closed when there are floods. Houses have all been flooded in that area so I can well understand where SEPA are coming from.

“With any new development you would expect them to ensure that there will not be any water run-off which would cause flooding elsewhere.

“If that were the case, then I would expect some of the residents there to be very concerned about it.”

Homes and commercial properties were affected in August 2014 when the former mart was submerged under more than two feet of water.

Developers ANM have already removed proposals for a care home in the complex due to flooding fears.

But Fairhurst believe the completion of the £86 million flood scheme in Elgin will eliminate the risk of flooding caused by the nearby Tyock Burn being backed up from the River Lossie, arguing their proposals should be allowed to go forward.

Road gullies and a grass swale have been included in the design to manage surface water in the proposed housing estate, which could have up to 67 houses and 34 flats.

A report submitted to Moray Council by Fairhurst stresses the auction mart is outside the burn’s floodplain.

It adds: “Landraising of the site would not result in fluvial floodwater being displaced in the design 200-year return period event, and in this respect would be in accordance with SPP (Scottish planning policy).”

SEPA’s planning officer Clare Pritchett wrote: “We have reviewed the additional information and, in summary, insufficient information has been provided to address our concerns and demonstrate that any proposed mitigation measures will not increase flood risk elsewhere.”

Mrs Pritchett said SEPA would review its objection if further information is submitted.

Research to map effects of climate change on Scotland’s coasts and monuments

St Andrews’ coast will be mapped as part of the project

The damage that climate change could cause to nearly one fifth of Scotland’s coastline as well as important infrastructure and monuments from and the steps that could be taken to mitigate it will be forecast in a new two year research project.

The next phase of will use the latest monitoring techniques to map and categorise the resilience of the Scottish coast and identify the links between erosion and flooding.

The research, led by the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage and carried out by the University of Glasgow, launches this month and is funded by CREW (Centre for Expertise in Water). It will focus on specific study sites including Montrose Bay, St Andrews and Skara Brae to forecast future change and erosional damage and also work with stakeholders like local authorities, SEPA and Historic Environment Scotland to develop plans to mitigate these effects.

Cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “Rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion and flooding have caused substantial damage to our coastlines and communities over the last few decades and the pace of erosion is increasing. We need to take action now to adapt and adjust to these changes.

“This research will forecast the extent of damage that could be caused to our precious coastlines through the effects of climate change and will work with communities, local authorities, transport agencies and other planning bodies to develop plans to manage coastal change before it’s too late.”

Scottish Natural Heritage is managing Chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Scotland’s beaches and dunes play a vital role in protecting £13 billion-worth of buildings and roads. That is more than twice that currently protected by seawalls. By their dynamic nature, shifting sand dunes can replenish areas of shoreline; as such they are our natural defences. This ensures that our beaches and dunes can be a natural ally in combating the effects of climate change.

“And by working with nature at the coast, we can help ease and adapt to climate change impacts – in particular sea level rise and storms.

“We and our partners in Dynamic Coast are committed to forecasting future risks and highlight where we can help nature to help us build resilience to climate change and ensure existing and future development is secure.”

Dynamic Coast’s principal investigator, the University of Glasgow’s Professor Jim Hansom, added: “We are now facing decades of future sea level rise and increasing erosion and flooding at the coast, so we need to better understand the increased risk posed by climate change to coastal assets and communities.

“We need to know whether to adapt, defend or move those coastal assets as well as how social justice might be better incorporated into future policies. Failure to act now will lead to enhanced costs and impacts later.”

Aberdeen bypass contractor fined over river pollution

SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn

The consortium building the new Aberdeen bypass has been issued with a £280,000 penalty for a series of silt pollution incidents on the rivers Don and Dee.

Aberdeen Roads Limited, a joint venture including Balfour BeattyMorrison Construction and Carillion, was deemed responsible for the incidents on the important salmon rivers along with some tributaries.

The case if the first major enforcement of new powers by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and will see over £280,000 committed to community projects and environmental improvements across Aberdeenshire.

Following extensive investigations and enforcement action by SEPA between 2015 and 2017, the Construction Joint Venture (CJV) building the multi-million pound Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) have offered the funding in an Offer of Enforcement Undertaking, after causing a series of silt pollution incidents which affected the Aberdeenshire rivers.

The Enforcement Undertaking admits full liability by the AWPR B-T Construction Joint Venture (CJV) for the pollution and will result in the funding being divided between eight community initiatives as a penalty for the disruption and environmental impact.

The offer, which required the Construction Joint Venture to engage with local stakeholders, has been formally accepted by SEPA, thus securing one of the biggest financial outcomes for an environmental offence in Scotland.  It is only the fourth of its kind to be accepted by SEPA.

Granted as a new enforcement power in June 2016, an Enforcement Undertaking represents a formal offer by an organisation or individual to make amends for an offence by improving the environment or communities affected, using their own resources.

The new enforcement power can be used to bring about effective and immediate solutions to environmental offences and requires the offender to work with SEPA to ensure ongoing compliance in future, as well as making appropriate restitution.

SEPA chief executive, Terry A’Hearn, said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we will respond robustly to organisations who fail to comply with environmental controls. Every operator must comply.

“It’s right that the Construction Joint Venture should offer this significant enforcement undertaking in recognition of the environmental impact of their actions, which resulted in a series of silt pollution incidents impacting numerous tributaries to Aberdeenshire rivers, the Dee and the Don.

“We are delighted that CJV has become one of the first operators to use the new enforcement undertaking.  The CJV has stepped forward, accepted responsibility and set out to put things right.

“An enforcement undertaking not only compels those who breach the law to make amends, it instils a more positive working relationship based on understanding the duty we all share in safeguarding our natural environment.”


Aberdeen Roads Limited is constructing the new 36-mile road which will provide a fast link between towns between the North, South and West of Aberdeen.

The project is being delivered by Transport Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and in partnership with Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council.

The silt pollution was caused by heavy rainfall which led to muddy water running off the construction site into waterways.

An enforcement notice was issued to contractors last year after concerns were raised at the time about the impact it could have on salmon and freshwater pearl mussels.

Transport Scotland said: “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and have been working closely with SEPA and the contractor, Aberdeen Roads Ltd (ARL), to ensure the watercourses on site are protected from construction activities.

“We welcome any measures that have been agreed between SEPA and ARL where they result in a positive impact on the environment.”

The biggest beneficiary of the undertaking is the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, which will receive £112,500 for improvement projects relating to diffuse pollution, and £37,500 to fund an agricultural officer for two years to assist farm owners in reducing diffuse pollution in the River Don.

Richard Gledson, chairman, Dee District Salmon Fisheries Board, added: “Silt pollution from the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route gave us great cause for concern, particularly as the River Dee is designated as a special habitat for both salmonid fish and fresh water pearl mussels, which rely on a delicate eco-system to feed and spawn.

“We welcome both the immediate response by SEPA, including the temporary restriction of construction activity, their investigation, and today’s enforcement undertaking. This will provide for environmental improvements that will go some way to offsetting the impact on local communities and the environment.”

In addition to the funding for community and environmental benefits, SEPA will also recover £47,958 as part of the offer. This lump sum will be made by the CJV as a contribution towards the time spent investigating the various pollution incidents which resulted from their construction works.

Legal challenge against new ‘wild land’ wind farm refused

renewables wind farmCountryside campaigners who sought judicial review of a decision to approve plans for a new wind farm in a designated “wild land” area have had their legal challenge dismissed.

Danish billionaire and landowner Anders Povlsen, director of Wildland Limited, which owns the Ben Loyal, Kinloch and Hope and Melness estates, lodged a petition seeking to reduce a decision of the Scottish Ministers to grant consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 and deemed planning consent under section 57(2) of the Town & Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 for the Creag Riabhach wind farm on the Altnaharra estate in Sutherland.

However, a judge in the Court of Session ruled that there was “no error of law” in the way ministers reached their decision or in the way they expressed their reasons.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby heard that the proposed development would comprise 22 wind turbines with a maximum tip height of 125 metres and a generating capacity in excess of 50MW, with five of the turbines to be erected within a designated wild land area.

With the exception of the wild land area the site was not subject to any environmental designations, but the immediate and wider surrounding areas included sites of special scientific interest, a special area of conservation, special protection areas, national scenic areas and special landscape areas.

In accordance with their obligations under schedule 8 to the Electricity Act and the Electricity (Applications for Consent) Regulations 1990, Scottish Ministers were required to notify the local planning authority, the Highland Council and consult with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The petitioner objected to the proposal, as did SNH and the John Muir Trust, but the council decided not to object following a report to it by its Head of Planning and Building Standards.

The decision letter, which recorded the details of the proposal, the application history and the decision not to hold a public inquiry, stated “that significant impacts on the physical attributes of the wild land area will be limited in extent relative to the scale of the wild land areas” and that the effects on the wild land area could not be overcome by further re-design or re-siting of the turbines.

It was also acknowledged that the siting of the five turbines in the wild land area ran “contrary” to particular planning policies, but taking into account the contribution to renewable energy targets and net economic benefits, the ministers concluded that in the circumstances and in the context of the competing policy considerations the “balance of benefit is in favour of the grant of consent”.

The petitioner argued that the Scottish Ministers “failed to give proper adequate and intelligible reasons”, first, in respect of the rejection of SNH’s advice in respect of landscape and visual impact, and secondly, in relation to the special protection to be afforded to areas of wild land and the circumstances in which development was acceptable.

But the judge dismissed the petition after ruling that it could not be that the decision failed to leave the informed reader, and the court, in no real and substantial doubt as to what the reasons for the decision were and the material considerations which were taken into account in reaching it.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby said: “In my opinion, looking at the letter as a whole it cannot be said that Scottish ministers have failed to give proper, adequate and intelligible reasons for reaching their conclusion in respect of landscape and visual impact.

“The fact that ministers have preferred the views and opinion of the council to those of SNH cannot be a matter of criticism, provided that ministers have given proper, adequate and intelligible reasons in reaching their decision.

“Given the relatively brief nature of the advice from SNH, the fact that their views were taken into account in the council’s appraisal, the comprehensive nature of that appraisal and the clear and cogent terms of the decision letter I am not satisfied that there was in this case any obligation to separately set out reasons for not accepting the advice from SNH.”

This was the first time that permission had been granted for commercial scale wind turbines within wild land and SNH submitted that ministers failed to consider the “negative effect” of the development and argued that there was a need for “consistency” in decision-making.

But the judge said the issue was “not whether the decision was inconsistent with another decision but whether the respondent had left out of account a material consideration”.

He continued: “Apart from pointing out that the earlier decisions were refusals and that this was the first one where permission had been granted, where there had been considerations of wild land, the petitioners have not put forward any particular reason for suggesting that these decisions were material considerations in this case.”

The developments were of different sizes, in different locations, each with their own location specific issues and environmental statements and the potential impact on wild land and the potential benefits of the developments “will differ one from the other”.

The judge said: “It is not for the court to make assessments as to why decisions on individual applications might reach different results. These are planning judgments for ministers on the facts of each case applying the policy in force at the time.”

In his written opinion, Lord Boyd concluded: “The reasons for granting permission are set out at length in the decision letter. Ministers acknowledged the conflict with wild land policy, limited as it was, and struck a balance with other competing policies. In doing so they appraised the negative impacts against the benefits they perceived flowing from the development. Having gone through that process, Ministers reached a planning judgement taking into account all material considerations.

“In my opinion, there is no error of law either in the way in which they reached their decision or expressing their reasons for it. In short the petitioners’ position appears to be that no windfarm development whatsoever should be allowed on designated wild land areas. That may be, but that is a political decision and not one for the courts.”

Superglass signs Scotland’s first Sustainable Growth Agreement

Superglass CEO Ken Munro (left) with SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn

Superglass CEO Ken Munro (left) with SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has signed Scotland’s first Sustainable Growth Agreement at a launch event with Stirling-based manufacturer Superglass Insulation Limited.

The agreement (SGA), signed by SEPA chief executive Terry A’Hearn and Superglass CEO Ken Munro, is the first of its kind and centres on six commitments to proactively enhance the environmental performance of the company over the next four years.

The commitments specifically target a reduction in water usage, waste and CO2 emissions from the Superglass facility, while continuing to seek the use of innovative technologies to increase the use of renewable energy sources – with support and assistance from SEPA. The agreement promotes a strong emphasis on engagement with local groups to improve the economic, social and environmental outcomes of the surrounding community.

SGAs are a core component of SEPA’s pioneering Regulatory Strategy, One Planet Prosperity, which was unveiled in August, 2016. Each SGA represents a formal agreement with SEPA, entered into on a voluntary basis by regulated businesses, with the focus primarily on practical actions to deliver positive environmental change.

Mr A’Hearn, who delivered a speech at the Superglass’ Innovation Centre in Stirling yesterday, said: “This agreement marks a milestone for environmental management in Scotland. It commits SEPA and Superglass to a set of practical actions, not vague words. These actions will improve the environment, strengthen Superglass’ business viability and benefit the local community. This is what 21st Century environmental management must deliver.

“Superglass meets Scotland’s environmental standards, but it wants to go further. SEPA is delighted to support Superglass in its efforts to make further environmental gains in its manufacturing processes, its transport systems and its products.

“We are also delighted that other parties such as Stirling Council, Zero Waste Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust are joining this effort. Together, we hope to support an innovative Scottish company show that environmental excellence can create commercial success in a tough and uncertain global economy.”

Mr Munro added: “I am pleased and proud to be signing Scotland’s first Sustainable Growth Agreement today. We have invested heavily in new technology and improved processes, with excellent results. We have shown that delivering hard commercial results and improving environmental performance are complementary objectives.

“This is a marker on a journey on us, and not the finish line. This year we will be increasing our level of water recycling and installing an energy capture system. Energy efficiency is our core purpose, and we will work with SEPA to ensure that we build on this success and make still further gains in this area. It is at the heart of our commercial strategy, as well as our environmental one.”

Cabinet secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “The Sustainable Growth Agreement sets out the real on the ground actions that SEPA, working with individual companies, can take beyond regulatory compliance.

“I look forward to seeing the first growth agreements deliver benefits to businesses, communities and the environment.”

The full SGA document is available on the Better Environmental Regulation page of the SEPA website, along with a guiding principles document outlining the broader aims of SGAs.

Glasgow City Deal funding for drainage plan to allow building of 22,000 new homes

MGSDPAn urban flooding project to tackle the deficiencies in Glasgow’s drainage system and allow the building of 22,000 new homes on previously unviable brownfield sites has been received a funding boost.

The Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet has approved £3.17 million of funding towards the next stage of the delivery of the £46m Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Plan (MGSDP), the creation of its full business case.

The MGSDP is seen as an exemplar project in and beyond the UK through its partnership working on urban flooding.  It is expected that by the end of the project, the improvements delivered will bring an annual economic boost of over £65m to the city region and allow the building of 22,000 new homes on brownfield sites whose development is currently not economically viable.

In addition, the work will reduce the risk of flooding for more than 7,000 existing properties and over 30km of roads, delivering an annual £2.3m reduction in average damages and a drainage capacity of 4,747 litres per second.

The key objective of the MGSDP – which will deliver these improvements in 14 areas all across Glasgow – is to help increase sustainable economic growth in the Glasgow city region by removing drainage constraints to regeneration, including the facilitation of the regeneration of vacant and derelict land, and increasing GVA through reducing the negative impact of flooding. The removal of drainage constraints has been recognised as key to increasing Glasgow’s economic growth, in particular since the 2002 floods.

More recent national experience of flooding and its negative impact has emphasised the need for city regions to have robust flood defences and drainage provision in order to guard against negative economic consequences.

The project is a partnership between Glasgow City Council, Scottish Water, SEPA and other Clyde Valley local authorities.

Councillor Frank McAveety, chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “The drainage plan will help to deliver 22,000 new homes, many new jobs and a huge economic boost to the Glasgow city region.  This plan is a great example of how City Deal funding can enable development that would otherwise not happen, bringing tremendous economic and social benefit.  This fantastic project will unlock a huge amount of the area’s economic potential, and prevent the impact of flooding on residents and businesses.”

The MGSDP is expected to release over 1.33million square metres of land for housing development; over 44,000 square metres for office development; and almost 30,000 square metres for industrial development.  This will attract businesses to locate in the Glasgow city region due to the available floorspace and labour force, increasing the area’s productivity.

The green-blue infrastructure (infrastructure that works with the natural environment rather than against it) delivered by the MGSDP will support regeneration through flood mitigation, enhanced climate change resilience and unlocked development potential. In addition, the aesthetic, ecosystem and health benefits will act as a further catalyst for ongoing economic investment.

The locations in which the MGSDP work will take place include: Aikenhead Road / Overwood Drive; Baillieston / Garrowhill; Camlachie Burn; Cardonald / Hillington; Cardowan; Cockenzie Street; Croftfoot; Darnley Mains; Drumchapel; Fullarton Avenue; King’s Park; high Knightswood / Netherton; and east Springburn.  In addition, the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management Scheme (a component of the MGSDP) will meet the surface water drainage needs of Sighthill, Dundas Hill, Cowlairs and Hamiltonhill around the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Scottish Water to install tunnel in Glasgow environmental improvement project

Scottish_WaterA half mile-long new sewer tunnel is to be installed beneath the streets of the Yoker area of Glasgow as part of a £7 million project to help improve the water quality and natural environment of the River Clyde and tackle flooding issues.

Scottish Water has started work on the project, which involves the construction of a new sewer tunnel from the grounds of the former Blawarthill Hospital to the north bank of the Clyde.

The project, which will also involve the construction of a new Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) with powered screens at the former hospital site near Dyke Road and another off Dumbarton Road (A814), will improve water quality on the Yoker Burn culvert and the Clyde and help tackle flooding issues which have affected a commercial property in Dumbarton Road.

The new stretch of sewer, which will be about eight metres deep, will be installed using a specially constructed Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) rather than using the open cut method of excavating because this method will be easier and will minimise disruption.

The new CSO at the former hospital grounds will spill waste water in storm conditions to the new sewer and the new sewer will discharge the waste water to the River Clyde, as permitted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Contractors George Leslie, working for Scottish Water, are expected to complete the work in about a year, depending on weather conditions.

The route of the sewer tunnel, which has also been chosen to minimise disruption to local residents and road users, will run from the former hospital grounds, close to Dyke Road, under part of Dumbarton Road and parallel with another part of Dumbarton Road to the Clyde west of the former Scotstoun shipyard.

Mrs Joanna Peebles, Scottish Water’s regional communities team manager, said: “This important project will significantly improve the environment on the Yoker Burn, which is partially culverted, and the Clyde.

“Scottish Water has liaised with all relevant organisations and stakeholders, including Glasgow City Council as the project will include work in part of Yoker Primary School’s grounds and there will be some construction traffic on roads in the area and a small amount of road traffic management required.

“We can assure local residents, businesses and road users that we will do everything possible to minimise any disruption and would stress that any inconvenience will be far out-weighed by the long-term benefits to the local environment that this investment will deliver.”

The project is part of investment of about £10.5m in improvements to our waste water infrastructure in the Yoker area and part of Clydebank, which started in November 2014.

The improvement work in Yoker and Clydebank is part of Scottish Water’s £250m investment in the Greater Glasgow area’s waste water network, the biggest in more than a century, which will improve river water quality and the natural environment of the River Clyde and its tributaries, enable the area to grow and develop, alleviate sewer flooding and deal with the effects of increased rainfall and climate change.

The Greater Glasgow area investment follows years of collaboration and studies by the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership (MGSDP), whose partners include Scottish Water, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Glasgow City Council and Scottish Canals.

The investment in Yoker and Clydebank will, like many other projects, help achieve the MGSDP’s vision to transform how the Greater Glasgow area thinks about and manages rainfall to end uncontrolled flooding and improve river water quality.

SEPA launches new regulatory charging scheme consultation

new SEPA logo (master)The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the regulatory charging scheme covering annual licence costs and application fees.

The consultation follows extensive engagement with licence holders, the Scottish Government and wider stakeholders, and outlines proposals for a new Environmental Regulation (Scotland) Charging Scheme, which if approved by Scottish ministers is expected to come into effect on 1 April 2016.

The consultation aims to replace five of the existing charging schemes covering Waste, Pollution Prevention and Control, Radioactive Substances; Water discharges and Water abstractions with a single system of annual charges which prioritise activities with the greatest risk and poorest compliance ratings. The new scheme will also introduce a more equitable package of charges for licence applications and annual subsistence fees, to ensure that the cost of processing applications and annual inspections are recovered.

SEPA executive director, Calum MacDonald, said: “Reform of our charging scheme is an essential part of our approach to Better Environmental Regulation. The proposals for the new scheme are therefore specifically designed to make our charging scheme simpler, more transparent, and reflect more accurately the effort required from SEPA to effectively regulate a broad spectrum of activities.”

The consultation is open to the public until 17 September, 2015, following which it will be submitted to Scottish Ministers prior to the new charges being implemented on a phased basis from April, 2016.

For full details on the charging scheme consultation, visit SEPA’s Consultation page or contact

Green light for £5m River Isla hydro project

Den of Airlie

A £5 million hydro scheme for one of Scotland’s most protected natural sites has been given the green light by Angus councillors.

Angus Council committee members voted 10-3 to approve the Slug of Auchrannie scheme at Den of Airlie, around a mile south of Lintrathen Loch and just under two miles from the Reekie Linn waterfalls, on the county’s border with Perthshire.

Recommended for approval by planning officials, the location of the planned 1.4 megawatt scheme sits in a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is part of the River Tay Special Area of Conservation.

It is also part of what British Lichen Society officials describe as the “world headquarters” for rare river jelly lichen and they claimed the scheme could threaten the prized population of the rare species.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is understood to have granted a licence for the run-off water energy project in the heart of the Den of Airlie nature reserve despite previous concerns were raised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Sepa. It is understood recent amendments to the plan have satisfied all consultees.

The Airlie Castle Estate and the John Hogg Group project will involve a 14ft diameter tunnel extending some 656ft and including a 5.9ft diameter pipe and rails for maintenance bogeys, as well as a partially underground turbine house on the river’s north bank.

Project spokesman David Brown told councillors: “We are very mindful of the importance of this site and my brief is to deliver a viable scheme with the best environmental option.

“We understand the sensitivity of the site and we have a robust mitigation strategy in place.”

He said capital costs would be in the order of £5m, with almost £3m of that involving contracting costs including local labour.

The reserve is home to vulnerable flora and fauna, including internationally-protected river jelly lichen in the River Isla, and campaigners claim the project could do irreparable damage.

Airlie Castle Estate and the John Hogg Group spent four years developing plans for the scheme in the heart of the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and have promised a sensitive development.

The developers say money from the scheme will be pumped back into the Den of Airlie to protect the stunning landscape.

Scottish Water creates £8.7m wetland to manage storm overflows


An innovative new environmental wetland project in Cowdenbeath by Scottish Water has been completed and promises to be an innovative storm water treatment method – as well as a boost for wildlife in the area.

The project was designed and delivered by reed bed specialists ARM Reed Beds (ARM) in partnership with Barhale Construction.

Located to the south of Cowdenbeath Golf Course and shielded by a row of trees, the new wetland, constructed at a cost of £8.7 million, will naturally treat storm waters from two separate overflow streams and then pass the treated water into the Lochgelly Burn.

The wetland will also provide an ideal habitat for birds, insects and amphibians. In time the wetland will become a mini eco system and add to the diversity of wildlife in the area.

The Cowdenbeath area is serviced by a combined sewer network which connects to the Cowdenbeath Waste Water Pumping Station (WWPS) and storm tanks before being transported for treatment at the Levenmouth Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) further downstream.

Several Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) exist within the network and two of these CSOs were the focus of this overflow treatment project, namely Selkirk Avenue CSO and Cowdenbeath WWPS CSO.

The improved discharge quality at these overflows is part of a larger programme that aims to improve the water quality in a number of watercourses in the Cowdenbeath area, in particular the Lochgelly burn.

The Lochgelly Burn is the main watercourse in Cowdenbeath and flows to Loch Gelly, which is considered to be a sensitive waterbody.

Previously, in times of heavy rainfall, the excess waste water was passed through a screened outlet directly into the burn which the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) classified as Class D – seriously polluted under their River Classifications Scheme.

The project will allow this excess waste water to be stored and treated to a significantly higher standard before allowing it to flow back into the natural environment.  SEPA’s aspirations are that the standard is raised to classification A2 over time – this project will play a key part in that process.

Eddie Burns, project manager at Scottish Water, said: “The sewer overflows at two locations – the Cowdenbeath storm water works near Cowdenbeath Golf Course, and Selkirk Avenue – needed to be upgraded so they could continue to comply with modern environmental specifications. We are committed to finding the best solution for the local environment, and diverting the sewer overflows to a natural waste water treatment system proved to be the preferred option.

“Our solution is actually three separate projects. The first is to construct the wetland, another project to install a screen and a 1.2km transfer sewer from Selkirk Avenue.  And finally we have upgraded the pumping stations and storm tanks near the wetland which previously transferred the storm waters.

“The new system will provide sufficient treatment to allow storm waters to flow back into the Lochgelly Burn without compromising water quality.  Another upside is that it also creates a wildlife habitat for birds as well as insects, newts and other amphibious organisms.

“The project involved the construction of a specialised wetland and reed bed system that removes solids and forces oxygen into the waters, thus enabling it to reach a standard where it meets SEPA requirements for us to pass the flows into the Lochgelly burn.

“The result is a sustainable, low-carbon answer to a complex waste water management issue. The wetland is flexible in that we can alter how it treats the water depending on the flow, so in times of high flow the complex aeration system kicks in but otherwise it remains off and saves energy.

“The system ARM has designed is both cost-effective and in-line with how we want to treat waste water in the future.  Once complete, the wetland system will require little maintenance, saving costs year-on-year which will benefit everyone.”

The wetland system can treat 230,000m3 a year, the equivalent of around 100 Olympic swimming pools. The waste water comes from around 11,000 customers in the Cowdenbeath area.

Scottish Water has invested heavily in Fife since 2002. £224.5m has been spent to improve water and waste water services across the region. In the 2010-2015 investment period, there is still a further £13.7m being invested, including a £2m refurbishment of Kirkcaldy waste water treatment works and a large number of smaller projects to upgrade the waste water network.