Esk River Improvement Group Meeting Minutes of Meeting – 10am, Monday 15th May 2023, Microsoft Teams
Attendance: Douglas Lyons, Colin Beattie MSP, Jenny Gray, Moira Cartwright (Midlothian Council), Steven Boon (Scottish Water), Scott Fraser (Scottish Water), Ann Stewart-Kmicha (Dalkeith & District Community Council), Claire Tochel (Fisherrow Harbour & Seafront Association), Rachael Langfield (Coal Authority), Ross Hughes (Forth Rivers Trust), Rebecca Lewis (Riverfly on the Esk/Buglife), Paul Butler (SEPA), Katrina Wilson (SEPA), Peter Finnie (SEPA), Rob Mitchell (SEPA), Joy Godfrey (ENCC), Conor Price (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Rachel Warrington (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Caroline Freeman (Newbattle Abbey College), John Crofts (Esk Valley Trust), Rachael Elliott (Nature Scotland), Joy Godfrey (ENCC)
Apologies: David Ogilvie (SEPA), Anne Hyatt (Roslin and Bilston Community Council), Philip Duncan (Musselburgh Racecourse), Shona Grant (East Lothian Council)
CB welcomed everyone to the meeting and the previous minutes were approved.
1. Riverfly on the Esk/Buglife - Rebecca Lewis (RLe)RLe provided an update to the group.
RLe answered that they have a Facebook and Twitter account and are working on Instagram
RLe asked Scottish Water if they could receive notification of when planned water release from reservoirs are taking place.
SF offered to check this and come back.
ASK added that the community council previously had notice of when water was to be released.
RC commented that he is delighted to be working with Riverfly and that offered his guidance on geomorphology if required.
2. Midlothian Council - Moira Cartwright
MC Referencing the high water in Lasswade over the new year period, committed to provide an update to ERIG on Midlothian Council’s progress in identifying a resource to undertake a flood risk assessment in Lasswade (target area 202) in the financial year 2023/24. Midlothian Council are engaging with consultants in relation to their duties in terms of flood risk management in Midlothian.
CB asked if Midlothian Council have other areas in Midlothian that have the potential to be at risk from flooding.
MC will seek answers to this question within Planning and feedback to ERIG.
ASK remarked that flood risk areas would be within the Midlothian Local Development Plan that will be being produced as a result of the NPF4.
3. Scottish Water – Steven Boon and Scott FraserSB updates
CT asked if there will be public information about the Esk Pumping station works.
SB explained that he will ensure that public information on their website is updated.
CT asked if following the comment that there has been a slight improvement at Eastfield Pumping Station performance if there will be any update on the impact on the bathing water quality in that area, or shall she request a FOI for this information.
SB explained a request for a FOI would be the best way and that they will respond to this.
JG asked if bathing season should be a longer season.
SB stated the bathing season has not changed.
PF added that the bathing season is June to September, and it would be up to the Scottish Government if they wanted to extend the bathing season and instruct all involved that this has changed.
SF provided an update on waste water operations and sewer overflows following media coverage.
CB asked why south of the border they are following a different policy.
SF answered that perhaps they will now know more about their network and will be able to invest based on that data. Scottish Water works with the regulators and others and invests based on what information we have on the water environment to decide on where we want to prioritise. SF offered to send information on where the new 1000 monitors are in the network.
PF added that it is difficult to compare Scotland and the rest of the UK. In Scotland we have a public company that works close with the Scottish Government and SEPA on the investment program. Stating that it is a clearer picture here and the ecological status of waters in Scotland is superior than England and Wales by a significant margin. In England and Wales they have individual water companies over geographical areas so the picture is less clear than it is in Scotland.
4. Forth Rivers Trust – Ross Hughes
RH provided an update to the ERIG
RH explained that none of our results showed a concern, therefore none were reported. If there was concerns, we would have reported them at the time of the survey. Adding that this could change over time and they would like to re-survey after a certain period of time has passed.
5. Coal Authority - Rachael Langfield (RL)
RL provided an update to the ERIG on the Dalkeith Water Treatment Plant.
CB asked about the disposal of the waste products from the process and if there was any update regarding his concerns that it might end up in landfill.
RL answered that they have recently signed a contract to sell some of the waste, the ochre from the anaerobic digestion for use in sewage treatment plants. Adding that the Coal Authority has a target that 95% of the waste is reused.
ASK added her thanks about the work that was done regarding communication with the local communities and regarding the visit that was taken to the mine water treatment plant. Asked RL if she could provide an update on the Manganese from the geo-chemists at the Coal Authority.
RL advised, once the plant is up and running, we will have a better understanding on what treatment of the manganese might be required.
RE asked if there is an estimated or targeted date for the scheme to be operational?
RL replied that if the tender goes to plan, they could be onsite by the end of this financial year.
6. SEPA – Peter Finnie and Rob Mitchell
PF provided an update on the water scarcity information that has been circulated to MSPs and MPs.
CT asked if Ruth Stidson from SEPA will be following up with community meetings, relating to follow up questions she has from the Fisherrow briefing from August 2022, adding that they were told previously to take these questions back to Ruth Stidson to ask for the community meeting, and she has had no response to this request. CT asked if anyone can make contact with Ruth and if there is somewhere she can send the questions.
PF answered that he has previously communicated that he had spoken to Ruth and that they were actively considering the future community meetings, but this is predicated on providing information to the Minister and consideration for a number of bathing waters for redesignation. Depending on the ministerial decision on redesignation of Fisherrow, there may not be value in further meetings if it is back to normal bathing water designation. Adding if CT sends the questions to him, he will make sure they are addressed.
RM updated on the Esk barriers project regarding the removal of fish barriers and dams that impede the migration of fish to upstream habitats.
RC asked if Goose Green and Inveresk Weir in Musselburgh are considered in this project
RM added that there is clear evidence that fish can pass these weirs, so they are not considered eligible for the fund.
CP confirmed that there are functioning elements to these weirs and so that also makes them not eligible for the fund. Confirming that the weirs will be within the MFPS Outline Design Public Exhibition in June.
ASK raised that there had been local discussions about another bridge and also suggestions of a small hydro plant at Ironmills Weir and if SEPA had made contact with people regarding this.
RM replied that he did not know of plans for a bridge and would come back to ASK regarding this and that he is in discussion with owners of Ironmills Weir and he has had no discussions about a hydro scheme with them.
RH added that the left hand bank of the top of the structure at Ironmils appeared to be deteriorating.
RM agreed that degradation at each weir had occurred, but there is a low risk of that weir collapsing completely.
7. Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme – Conor Price
CP provided an update on the MFPS
CP gave an insight to a site visit to the Scottish Governments Natural Flood Management project at Eddleston. Jacobs, as design consultants are writing up a Technical Note to summarise their understanding of what was heard that day, this will be circulated to ERIG. But first Dundee University are completing an overview of the Technical Note.
CP stated that he will give a full summary at the next meeting as he only has initial findings at this point.
RC made a number of statements relating to the Eddleston meeting and the MFPS project
CP made a statement on behalf of East Lothian Council that East Lothian Council have already stated in print in the East Lothian Courier that it considers that the petition contains misinformation and mis direction and that there is currently a legal case pending. Therefore, CP is not going to comment any further on the petition.
Meeting ends 1130am
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