River Pollution (Support for Communities)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to local communities where nearby rivers have been polluted by waste overflows from detritus flushed down toilets. (S5O-02449)

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

Scottish Water carries out regular proactive inspections in areas that have had previous pollution incidents. Whenever pollution is found, clean-ups take place. Further to that, Scottish Water will be working closely with communities to help educate customers about what should and should not be flushed down the toilet.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

The cabinet secretary may be aware that the issue has occurred recently at the Mary Burn in my constituency. Can she outline what support the Scottish Government will provide to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Water and my constituents to ensure that the issue will not reoccur?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I am indeed aware of the situation with the Mary Burn. Scottish Water has attended to clean up the immediate debris on a number of occasions. There is also a commitment to spend a prolonged period doing a much wider clean-up where there has been a more significant impact, and that work is nearing completion.

In addition to undertaking cleaning, Scottish Water has completed some adjustments to the network, including constructing a higher weir plate at the storm screen to prevent the overflow from triggering when it should not. The Scottish Government will provide £210 million to support Scottish Water’s £3.6 billion capital investment programme in 2018-19. We ensure that SEPA is adequately funded to perform its regulatory role to protect our environment.

Officials stand ready to provide any additional support that may be required. However, I need to reiterate that people need to stop putting the wrong things down the toilet in the first place.

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

I was recently contacted by a constituent who informed me about the issue of caravan and mobile home users dumping the contents of their chemical toilets by roadsides instead of paying to dispose of the waste in the designated areas. Will the cabinet secretary join me in condemning that behaviour? Will she also provide some response as to which agency or agencies people should deal with in tackling the issue? Could some type of public information campaign be launched on the matter?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

That is disgusting behaviour, and I am sure that everybody in the chamber will feel the same about it. I share the member’s concern. It is the responsibility of everyone living in or visiting Scotland to dispose of their waste in the appropriate manner at designated facilities. Any evidence of this type of behaviour should be reported directly to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.