12 October 2016
Mrs Grant, who took up complaints from residents about a planned new plant at the Wester Ross village, wrote to the public water authority asking if its engineers had considered other options and, if so, what the options were and the projected cost.
She received a letter back from Brian Lironi, Scottish Water’s Director of External Communications, saying the authority took the concerns of the communities in which it worked “very seriously” and it wanted to maintain the trust and confidence of everyone it served.
He added: “Since your last correspondence from Scottish Water, the community of Gairloch has submitted applications to SEPA for Bathing Water status at Gairloch and Big Sands.
“As a result, we have taken the decision to put our plans for Gairloch WWTW on hold while we review the technical options available to us to meet a possible new designation.”
He said that the community and those with an interest would be kept updated on progress.
Mrs Grant is delighted that the authority is looking at the issue again but says there is no doubt it was down to community pressure.
“Although Scottish Water has offered to go through the original options with me, I will await the outcome of its review to see if it comes up with plans that are more agreeable to the community,” she said.
“When I first took this up on behalf of constituents, the water authority did not appear to shift from its original proposals which had received planning approval in March. So, this is a welcome step forward. The community deserve praise for pursuing this.
“Gairloch is such a beautiful location and its waters deserve to have the best sewage treatment available.”
Previously the Scottish Environment Protection Agency told the MSP that it would carefully consider Gairloch residents’ representations as well as the pending potential Bathing Waters designation before making a decision on new plans for the village’s sewage treatment.
The public water authority was planning to spend £800,000 on a new sewage treatment process at Gairloch Wastewater Treatment Works, which serves around 1,000 customers.
However, several residents contacted Mrs Grant objecting to the end of a membrane process at the Fhasaich plant which currently produces an effluent described as “virtually” pure while removing harmful bacteria.
They argue a new septic tank system will release untreated effluent into the loch and will downgrade the system, reducing the water quality for bathing, snorkeling, sailing and canoeing—activities important for the tourist trade on which Gairloch heavily depends.