Esk River Improvement Group Meeting Minutes – 10am, Monday 24th January 2022, Microsoft Teams
Attendance: Ben Sutherland, Colin Beattie MSP, Jenny Gray, Paul Patterson, Nim Kibbler (Forth Rivers Trust), Pauline Crerar (Fisherrow Harbour Group), Lynn Crothers (East Lothian Council), Shona Grant (East Lothian Council), Conor Price (East Lothian Council), Gregor Moodie (East Lothian Council), Edith Cameron (Rosewell & District Community Council), Roger Crofts (Esk Valley Trust), Katrina Wilson (SEPA), Chris Gall (SEPA), Peter Finnie (SEPA), Ranald Lockhart (SEPA), Paul Butler (SEPA), Vicki White (SEPA), Claire Tochel (Fisherrow Harbour & Seafront Association), Steven Boon (Scottish Water), Scott Fraser (Scottish Water), Alison Baker (Forth District Salmon Fishery Board), Annette Larder (Coal Authority), Ann Stewart-Kmicha (Dalkeith & District Community Council), Anne Hyatt (Roslin and Bilston Community Council), Caroline Freeman (Newbattle Abbey College), Joy Godfrey (Eskbank and Newbattle Community Council), Derek Oliver (Midlothian Council).
Apologies: Philip Duncan (Musselburgh Racecourse)
CB welcomes the meeting and previous minutes were approved.
River Esk Pollution Incident – Lynn Crothers (East Lothian Council) and Katrina Wilson (SEPA).
LC confirms SEPA first became aware of the incident through notifications from the public of a discharge in the river and a strong smell in the area. SEPA attended on site on Friday 14th January, carried out sampling and traced the contamination up to the Craigie Burn. Investigation work was undertaken around the Old Craighall area in relation to demolition work carried out in the area, as well as ongoing construction work being conducted by Persimmon. SEPA have been following up a number of lines of enquiry in order to determine the source of the contamination, including witnesses who had seen tankers in the area perhaps discharging into the sewers. There is a live investigation which could lead to enforcement action from SEPA which means there are limitations on what further information they can provide to the group.
East Lothian Council also became aware of the incident on Friday afternoon and officers were out on-site throughout the weekend. On Sunday, East Lothian Council met with SEPA and Scottish Water to discuss the situation. At this stage, roles and responsibilities were able to be established, with East Lothian Council taking the key role in terms of the clean-up. East Lothian Council then engaged with a contractor with specialised spill clean experience who installed a number of booms in the watercourse, particularly in the Craigie Burn area. The SSPCA have also been on site and removed a number of birds to take them back to their wildlife centre for decontamination purposes. East Lothian Council also put up a number of signs along the waterway to advise the public to keep out of the water until the river has reached its normal level of water quality, as well as to tell the public not to interfere with the birds due to a high risk of avian flu.
SEPAs investigation remains ongoing and East Lothian Council are continuing to work with the contractor in terms of the clean-up. A tanker has also been on site and has extracted approximately 10 tons of pollution from the watercourse. LC explains that discussion with the contractor remain ongoing in regards to the rest of the clean-up process, but reports over the weekend suggest the booms in the watercourse are holding up well and managed to resist further contamination of the River Esk. East Lothian Council are continuing to meet with SEPA as well as public health colleagues in NHS Lothian to ensure the risks to public health are minimised and there have been multi-agency meetings to provide updates on a regular basis.
KW explains SEPA received reports before lunchtime on Friday and were onsite a few hours later to conduct an investigation. SEPA received intelligence which opened up a number of lines of enquiry, and throughout their investigations SEPA have been taking samples in order to verify or eliminate information they have received. SEPA have been working closely with ELC to share information and to provide updates to the public regarding the response to the incident. SEPA are continuing their investigations and are limited on what they can say at this time.
KW adds that whilst the ecological impact on the Craigie Burn has been significant, the impact on the River Esk has been less severe. The water samples SEPA are receiving confirm a broad mix of hydrocarbons, but due to a complex mix within the samples it is taking time to get a full analysis. SEPA have been working with ELC to share this information with contractors.
CB thanks LC and KW for their updates and wishes both the best of luck in finding out where the pollution this has come from and ensuring the culprits are dealt with.
CT states FHSA received a large number of reports from the public that were desperate to see action but faced significant difficulties in receiving information from SEPA and East Lothian Council regarding the response to the incident. CT mentions one of the team at FHSA calling the SEPA emergency helpline on Saturday morning for advice, but did not receive further communication from SEPA until 4pm on Saturday afternoon to confirm they will provide an update FHSA when they receive more information, but this is not to be expected until Monday. CT recognises there may have been a lot going on in the background, but believes the situation was managed poorly and further information was needed. CT adds the process of getting information out to the public needs to be improved.
NK adds Forth Rivers Trust received around 30 calls from people contacting them to highlight the incident, on which she directed them to contact SEPA’s pollution helpline. NK explains that due to not receiving updates from SEPA, rumours emerged that no one was responding to the incident and there was no sense of urgency. NK asks who is currently responsible for both the clean-up of the ecological impacts from the incident and the pollution material itself? If SEPA cannot find the perpetrator, who is responsible for the clean-up and covering the costs?
KW confirms that SEPA’s main role in a pollution incident is to investigate the source and who the perpetrator is. KW explains that the normal procedure for these situations is that the source of the pollution and the perpetrator are identified quickly, with the polluter covering the costs for the clean-up. When SEPA cannot find the polluter, they focus their efforts on the investigations, not the clean-up. However, KW notes on this occasion SEPA have worked with East Lothian Council over the weekend on the clean-up.
LC explains that East Lothian Council have been partaking in multi-agency meetings to provide information and updates, but there will be a point where they will have a cold debrief in which there will be a close examination of what happened and how things could be improved. LC notes she is aware there were issues raised regarding communications, which they will look at and discuss what improvements can be made should another scenario like this arise again in the future.
In response to NK, LC mentioned they are currently disentangling the legislation that is in place to make sure they know who is responsible for the costs for the incident. SEPA are a category 1 responder in these situations, however they may not be best equipped to deal with the clean-up and they do have the legislative powers to ask a public authority to take on the clean-up duties. LC adds that although East Lothian Council are currently fronting the costs for clean-up, this might not mean they are absorbing the full costs for the incident, if SEPA are able to trace the source and the perpetrator of the incident they could also recover costs from them.
NK reports there is a great deal of confusion from the public regarding where responsibilities lie. NK adds there is an element of environmental justice involved which means money and fairness will form a big part of the unpicking of the incident.
LC states they are in the early stages of trying to find the perpetrator and they will then be able look at issues relating to cost recovery.
NK explains she has been involved in a number of incidents in the past where it has not been possible to identify the perpetrator, or to extract the full sum of the money from the polluter through legal processes. NK notes it would be interesting to calculate how much this incident has cost and believes it is important to make this information public in order help to create a sense of transparency.
CT contributes that she hopes the coastal pollution will also be considered as part of the analysis of the incident.
LC mentions East Lothian Council Countryside Rangers have been working closely with colleagues in the RSPB to assess the impacts of the incident along the Fisherrow shorefront.
Scottish Water – Steven Boon and Scott Fraser
Mary Burn – small amount of rags identified which are being cleared up. Some spills identified from normal operations at CSO.
Benbught Burn – no issues identified.
Hardengreen – no issues identified.
Eastfield Pumping Station – cleaning work which has been planned is now being undertaken and will be completed in advanced of bathing season.
Grannies Park – manholes have now been extended by the PFI; Scottish Water are currently monitoring the impact.
Kill Burn – an issue reported on 30th December which was documented by Scottish Water as a category 3 environmental pollution incident. Sewage Response were sent out to clear the choke in the network. There was some discoloured water which was draining into the Kill Burn. The issue came from a manhole which was spilling from the David Wilson housing development, blockage coming from their drainage which connects into Scottish Water’s existing sewer. Issue was cleared by 31st December. There was a further choke on the 7th January and clean up was completed on the same day.
SF shares briefing on Scottish Water’s new customer campaign ‘Nature Calls’ relating to correct behaviours in the disposal of sanitary products. Scottish Water have been experiencing huge operational impacts on their network and more frequent discharges into rivers. Scottish Water have around 37,000 call outs a year from blockages in pipes in their network caused by the disposal of wipes and sanitary products, costing £6.5million of public money.
Scottish Water have been undertaking a large number of stakeholder briefings in preparation for the launch of the campaign on February 21st 2022. SF explains they have received largescale support from their customers for the campaign and they are pleased to hear that customers believe this is an issue Scottish Water should be taking forward. SF notes one of the aspects which has came out of the customer research is that 74% of people have stated that they never flush wipes down the toilet, which he reports is not an accurate representation of the actual behaviours of the public. There is also confusion amongst the public between ‘flushable’ and ‘fine to flush’ standards, the latter involving the testing of products to demonstrates that they do not contain plastics and will break down like toilet paper. The research has also highlighted that young females are unaware that sanitary products contain plastics and therefore should not be flushed down the toilet.
SF notes Scottish Water have been using social media adverts to increase awareness of the campaign. Scottish Water are also developing radio and television advertising which will run for 6-8 weeks from 21st February.
CB asks how successful the campaign has been to get manufacturers to drop the plastics element of these products.
SF comments there has been other work going on in the background in regards to the plastics elements of wet wipes and trying to remove them in order to get to a ‘fine to flush’ standard. Some retailers have stopped stocking flushable products unless they meet the ‘fine to flush’ standard. Also, improvements have been made in terms of labelling on packaging advising to not flush wipes.
JG asks if Scottish Water will be utilising platforms such as TikTok to increase awareness amongst young females regarding plastics within sanitary products.
SF states he understands the social media platforms Scottish Water are using is Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They are seeing good engagement on Instagram; however he recognises this may not be as effective as TikTok for targeting younger populations.
JG mentions there may be a way to invite young people to make their own TikToks on this topic. If they have a good following, then all of their followers will see it.
SF agrees and notes JG has been very successful in the past on raising awareness of these issues by using different channels to get information out to the public.
ASK mentions she would like to clarity on the issue of a burst Scottish Water mains which occurred on Thursday 20th January and led to a significant number of school children being sent home. States the community would be interested to know how the burst mains in Newtongrange could result in a number of different parts of Midlothian also being impacted.
SF explains that due to the burst coming from a large diameter main this caused problems for a large area. SF confirms Scottish Water did manage to get supply working again quickly and were also using a tanker to pump water into the network to keep schools open but was aware that some schools did have to close for at least part of the day. SF confirms he will check his records and will provide further details with the group after the meeting.
SF reports there was an announcement made by Scottish Government Environment and Land Reform Minister Mairi McAllan in December on the Scottish Water’s Urban Waters Route Map, which is approximately £500 million of investment in urban waters with the aim of improving the performance of CSOs and its sewer network. SF adds he will share a link with members to further information on this matter on the Scottish Water website.
Forth Rivers Trust – Nim Kibbler
No significant updates from last meeting. NK notes they are in the process of launching a project in Spring which is being finalised with partners. Information has been sent to a number of community groups should they wish to discuss the launch of the project.
Coal Authority – Annette Larder
AL notes funding for the minewater treatment scheme was approved by BEIS late last year and now the tenders for the design and construction of the treatment scheme are due back on Monday 31st January. This will determine how long the process will take and how much it is likely to cost.
Coal Authority has appointed a new Stakeholder Engagement Manager who has been organising an informative event which will take place on January 31st to update the public on the development of the treatment scheme.
Coal Authority has the intention to submit plans to the local planning authority in the coming weeks. The planners will review Coal Authority’s proposals and have the ability to impose conditions to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation and guidance. AL explains the Coal Authority has rights to develop certain aspects of the scheme which are close to the mines without having to submit for planning, however they do need to comply with all the requirements of planning and Environmental Impact Assessments. The plans which Coal Authority will put forward are not exactly what will be built, but through the design and development process they will seek to minimise the impact on residents and the environment by improving sustainability as much as possible. There will be further opportunity for people to review the plans to provide comments which Coal Authority will seek to take on board in the design.
On the chemistry of the minewater, the total iron concentration has been around 46-47 mg/litre. AL mentions the numbers do fluctuate, but there is not a significant trend, although it is slightly higher than 3 months ago. The manganese is relatively constant at approximately 5 mg/litre. The Manganese, Nickel and Zinc are all below the EQS level.
Coal Authority has been continuing to work with SEPA to progress towards making an application for the plant and are currently working through some of the details and challenges. AL explains both the applications and the receipt of the license from SEPA will be another key milestone for the Coal Authority.
Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) – Katrina Wilson
Eastfield Pumping Station: Scottish Water has identified an issue with silt accumulation in the wet wells which was restricting the pass forward flows. A Partial clean was carried out prior to 2021 bathing water season which improved the pumping capacity. Post-bathing season Scottish Water has been working with SEPA via The Eastfield Waste Water Pumping Station Operational Group in order to secure further improvements, involving survey work being carried out and a full clean of the wet wells also taking place. All further works will be carried out prior to the bathing water season this year. SEPA is satisfied that Scottish Water has taken all the necessary steps to maintain compliance with the license conditions. Enforcement takes many forms and whilst SEPA have not taken formal enforcement action SEPA have been working with Scottish Water to provide advice and guidance. SEPA are comfortable they have taken the correct enforcement approach given the circumstances, with the goal being of improving the pumping station.
Fisherrow Sands: SEPA have been doing out of season monitoring including investigative samples which have been taken weekly for a period of four weeks, primarily focusing on the Brunstane Burn but also some from the River Esk to identify further pollution sources that may be affecting the bathing water.
CT asks for clarity on whether the work will bring the pumping station up to the license requirement standard.
KW states the work that is being carried out will aim to bring compliance with the license SEPA has issued, but there is still the investigative works so SEPA cannot guarantee when that will take place.
SB notes that Scottish Water have been open and transparent with the group about the work they have been doing. Their goal is to bring the pumping station up to a point in which it is as good as they can make it, this is being done by bringing the wet wells up to full capacity and identifying if any equipment needs refurbished or improved. SB explains that in report from WGM there is a misunderstanding as to how the pumping station is operating. The report speaks about the downstream rising main not being fit for purpose which is not the case and was misrepresented in the report.
SB mentions there was an FOI request made last year in which he provided all of Scottish Water’s telemetry data for the past two years to demonstrate that the pumping station passes forward the flows that it is asked and it doesn’t regularly spill. Once all of the work on the pumping station is completed, they will keep a close eye on what flows the pumping station can do and whether it can do the full flow in its license. SB notes this is difficult to prove as the pumping station has never been asked to do that flow before, but it has done everything it has been asked to do and this is represented in the spill data which has been provided. Once work is done Scottish Water will perform a drop test in which they will allow the wells to fill up and then turn on all the pumps to see what the flow rate they can get from them all. SB adds he does not have any issues with bringing the results of these tests back to the group.
CT recognises this is a complicated situation, but as a non-expert the Eastfield report was very depressing particularly given Fisherrow has been on the poor water quality rating for around seven years. It came across in the report that the pumping station was not well maintained and therefore she wants to know that the work that is being done will improve the water quality. CT mentions when this issue is discussed it seems to be in a casual and positive manner, but she would just like to see that it is being taken seriously and that there are consequences for failures. CT asks if the information provided in the FOI could be shared with her.
SB notes Scottish Water do take this matter very seriously and have been working to get all their assets up to the standards they need to be. SB recognises the report seems to paints the picture that the pumping station does regularly spill but this is not the case and Scottish Water keep a close eye on how it is operating. The report does not represent what the pumping station does well which is why they are monitored with telemetry.
CB concludes and asks SB to keep everyone informed on progress at the pumping station.
ASK enquires as to whether the information in regards to the FOI at Eastfield Pumping Station can also be sent to BS to be circulated with the group.
East Lothian Council – Shona Grant
East Lothian Council officials met with SEPAs Contaminated Land Specialist in December regarding the former landfill site at Newhailes. SEPA are currently reviewing the site investigation and risk assessment which were undertaken in 2006/2007. A sampling strategy has been established which will identify various parameters and sampling points. SG notes she is hoping the sampling will begin soon and explains the aim is to produce an updated risk assessment after the sampling has been completed, with SEPA also looking at doing tidal monitoring in the area.
Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme – Conor Price
CP shares presentation on general progress of the scheme and how natural flood solutions are being incorporated into the design.
CP notes at the Shorthope Street bridge has previously been impacted by blockages within the bridges when debris gets stuck, but also by the sea levels. If there is a low sea level then the water can race away, however if there is a high sea level or a storm surge then that will further elevate the levels within the town.
CP provides image of the Goosegreen footbridge in 2013 through which Council demountable defences stopped flooding of urban area. CP explains this event was caused by the sea backing up the River Esk due to a storm surge on the Firth of Forth and property would have flooded if not for council intervention.
The team have been undertaking a massive consultation exercise to gather the thoughts of the town. Seven meetings have already taken place, with 1050 hand delivered letters by a team member and the rest being posted out to the public. Within those letter drops, 370 substantial discussions which could have taken up to one hour of time from a team member plus all information from the discussions have been logged.
The Scheme is not yet designed, and the process remains ongoing. The design will not be locked until it is approved under the Flood Risk Management Act. There is not currently an estimated date for it being locked, but it will not be until 2023.
The Scheme will have an Environmental Impact Assessment, as is required in the legislation. An environmental screening and scoping has already taken place to identify which areas would need to be looked at and environmental surveys are also being undertaken to understand the environmental situation of the town. At this stage the design has not been concluded due to the consultation process being ongoing, and therefore they cannot undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment until they are aware of what the design is. However, this assessment will be undertaken when the consultation process is completed, and it will be published.
There will be natural solutions incorporated into the Scheme, as there are already a number of natural solutions already included in the design which they have looked at and they are confident will work. They are also looking at a number of other possible natural solutions and will try to map as many into the Scheme as possible.
CP explains he is not yet able to confirm if Musselburgh can be protected using the sand dune system. They have previously looked at this option but did not believe it could work and therefore it was not included in the Preferred Scheme, however the Project Team was challenged in the Mountjoy Local Area Consultation meeting to review the new data available by Dynamic Coast and their approach to flood protection at St Andrews. The Scheme is now engaging with Dynamic Coast and their partner Glasgow University to access to their new data and modelling tool. They will now do a further assessment of the potential for this option and will update the town on the results of their new analysis.
CP mentions he is aware of an incorrect understanding that the Project Team and East Lothian Council are planning to open the Electric Bridge as a main road bridge and refutes this claim on behalf of the Scheme and the Council. The Scheme did commit to replacing the Electric Bridge as a like for like structure. The bridge was originally owned by Scottish Power, however as the Council have now taken ownership of the bridge they are capable of reconsidering how to approach the Electric Bridge and will bring this conversation to the town in the next stage of the Local Area Consultations.
At the next stage of the consultation process they will be combining the seven areas into two new groups – an ‘Esk Group’ which will meet on the 8th of February, as well as a ‘Coastal Group’ which will meet on the 9th of February. A whole town meeting will take place on 8th of March in which they will invite everyone to come together and understand everything the Project Team have learned on the consultation journey.
The Scheme is currently ‘off programme’, which means there is no contract programme in place due to the delays incurred due to COVID-19 and due to the commitment of the Council to consult the town. CP notes if they locked the consultation to one or two months then this wouldn’t be true consultation, therefore they have left this open ended so they can properly understand what the town is saying.
There will be a major public exhibition for the entire town at an appropriate point later in the design process when the design has sufficiently evolved. Only after the design has been brought to a satisfactory point will the Project Team go to East Lothian Council to ask for permission to begin the next stage through which the Scheme gets approved under the legislation. It is only when it is approved under the legislation when the design will be locked.
The Project Team are in the process of meeting a number of individuals and groups who have key information to be provided. The only group they are yet to confirm a meeting with is with Musselburgh Action Group and hope to organise this as soon as possible in order to better understand their concerns.
CP adds he is aware some of the Scheme’s communication tools such as its website are not yet sufficient and is committed to getting the website up to date, including all of the relevant historical documents, before the next stage of the consultations.
After the next consultation meetings in February and March the Project Board within the Council structure will meet to determine what to do next. By spring the Project Team hope to have a revise programme and clarity pertaining to the next steps thereafter.
CP announces they are now due to publish the Scheme’s flood maps for the first time. The Scheme has also recently received approval from SEPA of the process and approach it has taken, further to four years of working with SEPA to get to that point. The maps they will publish are not vastly different from the maps SEPA which are already published on their website, or from the Scheme’s maps which were previously published in their exhibitions in 2019. However, they are more sophisticated and accurate than any other map that has been published before, and therefore the Project Team will use those maps as the basis for the design.
CP mentions there has been a clear desire from the town that the Scheme should be as natural as possible. They must engineer solutions which are an appropriate use of public money and which are correct for reducing flood risk. The team are ongoing in attempting to understand how they deliver natural solutions within the Scheme. CP comments the most ‘natural’ solution would be to abandon the built environment and to return that land to the flood plain of the river or the sea, which would mean in reality the abandonment of parts of the town to give the space back to the river, but they are not intending to do this as the Council considers the abandonment of Musselburgh and its infrastructure as unacceptable. However, the design is not locked and if there is a major desire from the people to abandon parts of the town then Project Team will look at this again, but CP is unaware of any desire to do this and therefore this natural solution is being discounted by the Scheme.
CP explains the town must have protections along the river corridor and along the foreshore. If there were to be no defences along the Esk then all the water in a bankfull event must be kept somewhere else, therefore the question is whether natural interventions reduce it, and whether they will reduce it sufficiently. CP explains there must be something to separate the ‘wet’ environment (sea/river) from the ‘dry’ environment (town), but the form of that separation is yet to be confirmed. On the River Esk, they can reduce the water coming down to the town through upstream management or natural options within the catchment. There is currently an ongoing process of engagements with Professor Roger Crofts, SEPA and Dundee University to try and determine use of natural flood management solutions, which CP will update the group on in March. From a coastal perspective, defences must be on the foreshore and will consist of some barrier to keep the water out, which could take the form of a wall, embankment or sand dunes.
CP notes they have always looked to implement and develop natural solutions into the Scheme, for example it has always been their intention to put in a debris catcher to stop the debris getting to Musselburgh and blocking the bridges, potentially somewhere upstream of the A1 Bridge. They have also been looking at modifying Scottish Water reservoirs in the South Esk catchment in order to hold and capture water before it could get to the town.
CB thanks CP for bringing the group up to date on progress of the Scheme.
RC thanks CP for his comprehensive update and welcomes that the Scheme have been consulting more with the town. RC urges CP not to get involved in semantics about nature-based solutions, noting he has never heard of anyone talking about abandoning Musselburgh. RC adds he is pleased CP is consulting with the experts at Dundee and Glasgow Universities regarding coastal defences and is looking forward to his discussions with him.
JG mentions she has read previously that the marine environment requires nutrient from trees coming down the river and into the sea, enquires as to whether this will be prevented as a result of the Scheme.
CP comments that RC has challenged the Scheme on this issue which is no problem, as they are taking forward a Scheme in consultation and without challenge it is impossible for the Scheme to grow and be tailored to the town. He also looks forward to his conversation with RC and the Scheme will continue to connect to any expertise that is available and report back to the town.
In response to JG, CP notes that he is aware of the need for dead wood in ecosystems, but today there is very little debris that make its way to the sea as they get stuck within the bridges and weirs within Musselburgh and Midlothian. The Flood Protection Scheme is looking to replace bridges which are specifically prone to blockage, however the Scheme are incapable of altering the Rennie and Roman bridges due to their significant structures and both have grade A and B protection listing under Historical Environment legislation. As a result, they will remain a problem for blockage. The Environmental Impact Assessment will also pick up the impact of anything that they choose to do, including on this issue.
CP further reports the Scheme will continue to lead on the delivery of invasive non-native species reduction within the Esk corridor in partnership with Inveresk Village Society. They are currently making their plan and will update the group at the next meeting.
Midlothian Council – Derek Oliver
No significant updates from last meeting.
EC mentions that Rosewell & District Community Council are scheduling a clean-up of the Shiel Burn on Saturday 30th April and are in talks Crown Estate Scotland to gain the necessary permissions to do it.
DO explains he is happy to coordinate a waste collection uplift of anything collected.
EC states she will email DO separately to discuss further.
RC shares with the group his proposition that an action plan be drawn up for the Esk Valley. When looking at the wider context of the catchment, considerations should be made for establishing a progressive approach that seeks to meet a wide range of environment and ecological objectives relating to climate change, flood risk, biodiversity improvements, landscape amenity as well as public health and wellbeing. RC adds that in the context of the recently published River Basin Management Plan 2021-27 we should be looking at an action plan to be implemented over the coming years for improving the management of the catchment as a whole. RC notes that by making things more ‘natural’ we can in turn capture more carbon in soil, restore peatlands and wetlands and plant more native trees. RC comments there is government money available to assist this endeavour, such as Nature Restoration Fund, tree planting support from Forest Scotland and the Agri-Environmental Programme.
RC adds it is not for this group to take this forward as the project would require a host institution, however he has raised it as he believes there are wider issues about the whole catchment which are relevant for this group.
CB explains that members may need time to consider this proposal as there is a question as to how this could be achieved, and who would be responsible for taking on such a project.
CP notes this proposal does merit further consideration, mentions that it might be a question CB could raise with the Scottish Government. CP explains there is perhaps an opportunity for Scottish Government to start bringing together these key drivers in a way that isn’t done in specific projects.
CB states he is happy to make the necessary representations at a governmental level.
RC mentions he is please CB will take this to government, as he believes this is not a bureaucratic question, but a political one.
ASK states she is aware of a pollution issue just below Elginhaugh Bridge on the North Esk, notes the issue relates to iron ore coming from an old mine. ASK further reports the messaging by Coal Authority regarding a Bilston Glen informative event has led to a people in the local area perceiving the event as only relating to members of Loanhead.
AL recognises the point made by ASK and states that most of the literature is now referring to a treatment scheme in Dalkeith, with the presentation material next week also trying to reset that perception.
ASK thanks AL for her response, asks for clarity in relation to the Egress of minewater just below the Elginhaugh Bridge on the North Esk.
AL states she will contact ASK to discuss separately but explains it is her understanding this is a known discharge which is longstanding and is being monitored, asks if PB he can clarify.
PB confirms this is a longstanding minewater discharge. They are aware of the issue and do not believe the chemistry has changed but will add further detail at next meeting.
CB thanks all for attending.
Meeting ended 12:00noon.
1/3/2022 06:02:24 am
I note that ASK states the mine water discharge on the North Esk is below the Elginhaugh bridge. That is incorrect. The discharge is upriver of the Elginhaugh bridge, approximately at the Elginhaugh - Melville estate border, and emerges from below the rock of the south bank in the gorge there. It is extensive, staining rocks red as far downriver as Ironmills. It does not appear to have reduced in the last 20 years. We at Eskbank & Newbattle community council, in whose ward that is located, would like to see some record of its monitoring indicating frequency and extent, and the current situation.
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