River Esk (Pollution)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 27th February 2020.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

10. To ask the Scottish Government what is being done to find a long-term solution to the pollution issue in the River Esk in the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency. (S5O-04188)

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I am, of course, aware of the recent pollution incident in the River Esk. Scottish Water is committed to cleaning up any sewage-related debris arising from any discharges in storm conditions. In addition, Scottish Water is making regular checks along the River Esk for any signs of sewer debris and is actively working to encourage people to stop flushing the wrong items.

In order to minimise the risk from rural diffuse pollution to water quality on the north and south Esk, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has committed to visiting farms in the catchment during 2020 and working with land managers to help to reduce pollution.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary think that it is acceptable to allow sewage to flow into local bodies of water, given that there are 17 sewage outflows along the River Esk in my constituency? Will she take action to encourage SEPA to reduce the sewage that goes into rivers and streams through outfall pipes?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

Operation of the sewer network is a matter for Scottish Water. As the member will be aware, discharges from outfalls generally occur during extreme storm conditions, not during regular operation. Scottish Water has committed to investigate any recurring network issues.

As I indicated in my earlier answer, SEPA intends to visit farms in the catchment and work with land managers in respect of the diffuse pollution that might emanate from land use.

The Presiding Officer:

That concludes general questions. We are a minute early, but I hope that members are happy to proceed to First Minister’s question time.