Esk River Improvement Group Meeting
Minutes of Meeting – 10am, Monday 6th March 2023, Microsoft Teams
Attendance: Douglas Lyons, Colin Beattie MSP, Jenny Gray, Moira Cartwright (Midlothian Council), Shona Grant (East Lothian Council), Ann Stewart-Kmicha (Dalkeith & District Community Council), Pauline Crerar (Fisherrow Harbour & Seafront Association), Rachael Langfield (Coal Authority), Ross Hughes (Forth Rivers Trust), Rebecca Lewis (Riverfly on the Esk/Buglife), Chris Gall (SEPA), Paul Butler (SEPA), Katrina Wilson (SEPA), Joy Godfrey (ENCC), Conor Price (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Rachel Warrington (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Caroline Freeman (Newbattle Abbey College), John Oldham (Esk Valley Trust), Philip Duncan (Musselburgh Racecourse), Rachael Elliott (Nature Scotland)
Apologies: Steven Boon (Scottish Water), Scott Fraser (Scottish Water), Audrey Murray (EnjoyLeisure), Peter Finnie (SEPA), David Ogilvie (SEPA), Anne Hyatt (Roslin and Bilston Community Council)
CB welcomed everyone to the meeting and the previous minutes were approved.
ASK added if they could have a short summary of the main points that have been raised over the last 4 years during the monitoring. To encourage more people, who don’t have the ecological background.
RLe answered that Citizen Science is about collecting baseline data and community engagement. As part of the funding requirements there is a full written report on water testing that they are currently working on and are more than willing to share this once completed. Adding further that all of the data is available on the Riverfly Partnership website.
2. Scottish Water – (Scottish Water were unable to attend, so they provided the following summary)
Nature Calls campaign
Nature Calls campaign results
3. Forth Rivers Trust – Ross HughesRH provided an update to the ERIG
4. Coal Authority - Rachael Langfield (RL) RL provided an update to the ERIG on the Dalkeith Water Treatment Plant.
CB asked when will the decision to approve the project will be taken.
RL it is a two-step process. The first step is to the assurance board explaining the cost increases and the need to go out to tender again. This will give the approval to go out to tender and then they will go back in July for final approval with the actual cost and what company they are going to go with.
JG asked if the manganese will be fully treated at some point and if not what will be the impact on the river.
RL it is a two-step process. The treatment of the iron impacts the manganese levels. Until the iron treatment is up and running, we don’t know what level of treatment of Manganese will be needed. If it is required, there will be room in the building for this additional treatment plant.
JG asked if BEIS will welcome a second application for funding to treat the Manganese if necessary?
RL answered, as far as she is aware, yes, if that is what is needed from a point of view of water quality.
ASK added that the community appreciate the communication that was received in January, but they are worried about further slippage from a quarterly communication and hope that there is further communication soon.
RL added that they are doing communications on a quarterly basis and there will be a further communication once they have been to BEIS for approval.
ASK Added that there is concern about the non-treatment of manganese and what will be the impact of this on the River South Esk.
RL offered to have a discussion with geo-chemists and will send something that can be circulated.
PC stated that there are further leaks up river (at Elgin Haugh) and asked if the treatment plant will pull out the mine water and potentially reduce the outfall elsewhere.
RL confirmed that this is the case.
PB Added that flow coming out of Elgin Haugh has not changed. Explaining that it is very complex with the Manganese. SEPA are happy that it is a two-stage process. The iron is having the largest impact on the river and we don’t know the level of manganese to be treated until the iron has been treated.
5. SEPA – Chris Gall
CG no significant events to report. Reminded the group to report pollution incidents when they see them.
CB asked about the progress on the pollution incident in Musselburgh.
KW replied that the investigation is still ongoing, so they cannot give any further information. As soon as it is at an end point they will be able to provide information.
ASK enquired if CG knew anything about a strong odour that was coming from a sewage pumping station at Fisherrow Links park, commenting further that locals say that this is quite common. CG advised that ASK contacts Scottish Water directly on this matter.
PC asked if there was any progress on when the community meetings on bathing waters with SEPA will be reinstated. CG suggested the PC contacts Ruth Stidson directly.
6. East Lothian Council - Shona Grant
SG provided an update that the monitoring and data gathering at Fisherrow from the discharge at the former Newhailles landfill is still ongoing. The contaminated land officer at ELC is currently drafting his report. It was explained that there are discussions about what standards they are looking at in relation to the reporting. SG commented that they may have to contact NHS Public Health on this. SG asked if CB had already contacted Richard Othieno at NHS Lothian Public Health.
DL commented he was in touch with Richard Othieno in October, but despite an initial contact he had not been back in touch. DL suggested that he makes an introduction to SG at ELC to Richard Othieno on this matter. DL asked if ELC had anything that they could provide Richard Othieno with regard to the monitoring plan to introduce him to the issue. SG added that Scott Callow could add more detail to the monitoring that he has undertaken.
CB added that this has been going on for some time and his concern is if there is any hazard to public health and the need for NHS Lothian to get involved so we know that this is safe.
SG emphasised the importance of data gathering at this stage and that SEPA were involved in modelling the impact of the outfall discharge. SG will get in touch with Richard Othieno and have a conversation about this.
7. Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme – Conor Price
Updated the group with use of a PowerPoint presentation. To be included as the record for the purpose of the minutes.
8. Midlothian Council - Moira Cartwright
MC updated the group with regard to the flood risk assessment. Referencing the high water in Lasswade over the new year period, Midlothian Council is identifying a resource for a flood risk assessment in the next financial year and a further update will be provided.
In relation to the Environmental Crime Strategy, the wardens contract has been finalised and should be mobilised around the Easter period.
CB explained that that there was concern among the residents in Lasswade following being very close to a serious flood incident in December. CB emphasised the need to have a priority in progressing the flood risk management plan, in particular around Lasswade.
MC offered to pass this onto Derek Oliver.
ASK added that she expected that flood risk would be within the Midlothian Local Development Plan that will be being produced as a result of the NPF4 and Local Place plans.
CP added that he had picked up from SEPA the weather event at the end of December was a 1 in 10 event in Musselburgh. However, further up the river on the North Esk was of the region of a 1 in 25 year event. The water levels on the River South Esk were a lot lower in comparison, thus when the rivers joined, the weather event was not as significant further downstream.
Meeting ends 11:15
WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
If you would like to join our mailing list, please email email@example.com noting that you would like to be added.