FALKIRK EAST MSP ANGUS MACDONALD TAKES EVIDENCE FROM SEPA AND SCOTTISH WATER ON SEWAGE SLUDGE
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 09:44
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald has taken the opportunity in the Scottish Parliament today to quiz officials from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Water on the issue of sewage sludge which has been a problem in the Upper Braes area of his constituency for some time.
The representatives from the two public bodies were giving evidence to the Public Petitions Committee, which Angus MacDonald is a member of, on a petition lodged by Doreen Goldie on behalf of Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council.
The petition calls on “the Scottish Government to ban the use of sewage sludge on land and to look for alternative acceptable methods of disposal as adopted in other European countries”.
Quizzing the SEPA and Scottish Water representatives at the Committee this morning Angus MacDonald said:
“As Members are aware I have a constituency interest in this issue, which has plagued my constituents in the Upper Braes area for a number of years. The fact that the petition originates in my constituency highlights the seriousness of the issue in Falkirk East.
“The recent decision by Scottish Water to re-direct sewage sludge away from Falkirk district is welcomed by local residents, and the ongoing sludge review coupled with the implementation of the Regulatory Reform Bill will, I’m sure, see improved regulatory controls.
“Clearly, some operators flout and abuse current regulations and there is definitely a need for a ‘fit and proper person’ test in the future, to ensure contractors are competent in waste management.”
Angus MacDonald went on to ask what checks Scottish Water undertakes that sludge is stored and applied in accordance with regulations and whether Scottish Water takes into account the effect on local communities of storing and spreading sludge.
He continued to quiz the officials by asking what role SEPA have in inspecting the storage and application of sludge and what steps Scottish Water and SEPA take if they discover a problem.
Mr MacDonald went on to stress the need for more incineration of sewage sludge. Currently Scotland sends 33 per cent of sewage for energy production (incineration) however he highlighted that in Sweden the figure is 50%. Mr MacDonald has lobbied the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, to consider increasing the amount of sewage sludge used for energy in Scotland.
In addition, open air disposal of treated sewage sludge is actively discouraged in Sweden through a 250 Swedish Krone/tonne sludge tax. Mr MacDonald has pledged to urge the Scottish Government to investigate the feasibility of such a tax in Scotland.
In the meantime, in response to local concerns, the Scottish Government is currently undertaking a review of sewage sludge spreading which is due to report later in the summer. Depending on the findings of the review and any recommendations the Scottish Government may order a full consultation.