Reporting noise nuisance from Seafield Waste Water Treatment Plant

A number of months ago we introduced one handy web from on our website which allowed members of our community to report nuisance & intrusive odours from Seafield Waste Water Treatment Plan to City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Water, Veolia, Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

As we have recently received a significant number of complaints relating to nuisance noise from the plant, we have updated our form, allowing you to report smell and / or noise from the plant.

The form can be accessed by clicking here, and can be used any time, any day.

 

 

Strengthening Community Councils: Exploring how community councils can contribute to democratic renewal in Scotland.

This report from SCDC and What Works Scotland explores how community councils can be even more relevant in Scotland’s evolving policy context, especially as public service reform continues through the Local Governance Review.

The report is over 80 pages in length but of particular interest to you may be the recommendations, which are detailed on page 4.

To view the report follow this link.

 

Leith Links Community Council Meeting, 29 April, 6:30pm, Leith Community Centre

The next meeting of the Leith Links Community Council will be on Monday 29th April , at 6:30pm in the Leith Community Education Centre, New Kirkgate.

If you live in the area, you are warmly welcomed to attend.

Please find the Agenda for the next meeting here Agenda29.4.19

and minutes of our March meeting  Monday 25 March 2019

 

 

 

Noise Nuisance from Seafield Sewage Works – Update

For over a month now, local residents have been plagued (on and off, but mostly ON) by a distressingly loud, continuous noise, 24/7. It is driving people crazy, and making them angry. Many residents are especially distraught because they cannot sleep, even with earplugs. It is usually a continuous high pitched whine, although it can on occasion be accompanied by, or replaced by, a low pitched rumbling/pulsing.

Leith Links Community Council has been following this up vigorously, and has had (albeit slow to get started) good support so far from City of Edinburgh Council Environment Protection Dept.. Luckily noise – unlike smells – can be measured objectively, so they could not pretend it does not exist. It has been established definitively that the noise is emanating from Seafield Sewage Treatment Works, from a defective compressor on Primary Settlement Tank (PST)1, and to a lesser extent from PST Compressor 8, possibly with other ‘potential contributing factors which are being considered by the operator’.

Environmental Protection say (over a month after the first complaints)  ‘I can confirm that this matter is already under investigation. We are in dialogue with Veolia at the Seafield Waste Water Treatment works in relation to the noise. … I can advise you that Veolia are treating this as a priority and are actively looking to put short term and longer term measures in place in order to address this concern.’

The Council has requested a full report from Veolia, who run the Seafield plant, detailing what exactly is wrong and what actions they will take to ‘minimise’ (hhmmm..) the noise in the community. They expect this soon and of course we (LLCC) are urging that pressure is kept up on Veolia, for swift action!

This is just one more sign that Seafield is not fit for purpose. Since January, via this LLCC website form, there have been 76 reports of bad smells (70 of which came in between 24 February and 31 March). It is still smelling, today. Reports of the noise have been coming in since 5th March, continuing steadily until now, from at least 20 different people.

John Telfer, Head of PFI, Scottish Water, says “In the first instance I apologise for the fact that …members of the community have been inconvenienced by recent odour and noise issues….Can I assure you that Veolia are working to address the noise related issues that you and other stakeholders have made reference to. Veolia are fully aware of the inconvenience this is causing and are looking at what could be done in the immediate short and longer term to deal with these noise emissions…. Again please accept my apologies for the inconvenience these issues have caused and be assured that Scottish Water is taking steps to address your concerns.”

Is this good enough?

How come Veolia / Scottish Water didn’t start dealing with the noise problem much earlier? Would anything have been done at all if the community had not kept on reporting this? How come the Council does not seem to treat this noise nuisance as non-compliance with the Code of Practice they are supposed to ‘police’ and hold Seafield to account on?

What can residents do?

Now that the Council is finally ‘on the case’, there is no point in reporting the same noise repeatedly. That just means that the Environmental Protection Officer’s time is taken up replying to individuals, when we actually need him to spend his time  keeping up the pressure on Veolia and Scottish Water. BUT we (LLCC) would like to ask you to report it anyway – only via the form on this website. We suggest that you report the noise when first you hear it, and at daily intervals if you can be bothered. Currently the form is really only set up for smell reporting (we ARE updating it asap) but there are boxes that you can complete anyway saying something like ‘Along with the smell’ (or, ‘Not smell but’)  ‘continuous high pitched whining noise nuisance experienced’ & how loud, what effect it has on your quality of life.

Reporting via the form (see top of this page, or sidebar) means we can keep an accurate record of all complaints and compile these at intervals to keep the Council updated, without wasting their time on an hourly/daily basis.

However, just in case you want a personal response, or want an officer to visit your house, these are the correct contact points for Environment Protection:

Email – asknoise@edinburgh.gov.uk

Or use the general help lines on Tel: 0131 200 2000 or Twitter – @edinhelp

Leith Festival AGM & Board Member Recruitment

Leith Festival is an important annual event, only made possible by the massive support of our local community and volunteers willing to invest their time.

Their next AGM is due to be held on Wednesday 1 May 2019, at 7pm, in Leith Dockers Club.  Everyone is welcome to attend.  Click here to see their Facebook event.

They are currently seeking some new board members, including a Treasurer. So if you are looking for a new volunteering opportunity please do get in touch with them.

 

Click here to view Leith Festival contact details.

 

 

 

Leith Volunteer Fair 2019

A Leith Volunteer Fair will be held in Leith Community Centre on Friday 7 June 2019 from 1pm until 3pm.

This will be a chance for our community to find out about volunteering opportunities from a number of local organisations including Leithers Don’t Litter, Bethany Christian Trust and Leith Festival.

Pop along on the day to find out more.

Leith Links Play Park

City of Edinburgh Parks Department confirmed yesterday that after discussion with the contractors work on the new Leith Links Play Park will start during w/c 21st April.

This is great news for the area as we come into summer .

The contractors haven’t confirmed how long work will take but I would hope that it will be in use by June? Watch this space for further updates.

Seafield Update

During 2017 the local community continued to suffer noxious smells and it was clear that the reporting system set up by Edinburgh City Council was ineffective. Difficult to use and response times poor.

In 2018 the CC introduced a reporting tool for the community to quickly report nuisance smells when it became clear that system set up by Edinburgh City Council (COEC) was ineffective, difficult to use and resulted in poor response times.

The link the CC set up is easy to use and we know that our locally elected politicians and public servants are aware of reports. More importantly the public servants we expect and trust with policing our complaints can’t ignore public concerns.

Between 09/07/18 and 19/08/18 there were 123 reports.

Then 09/09/18 to 23/11/18 19 reports.

During the most recent incident between 15/02/19 to 18/03/19 we received 57 reports

Scottish Water issued an update on 15/02/19 alerting the community to urgent work being carried out at Seafield due to build up of sludge. This was followed by an apology issued by Scottish Water on 26/02/19.

SEPA told the community they only received 1 complaint passed to them from COEC and they were not aware that there had been so many.

SEPA said to Leith Links Residents Association

Thanks for your email. I am sorry to hear the community have been experiencing odours. I have logged your email as an environmental event. The event reference number is ENV/0897328 and I can provide the update below.

SEPA did not receive any complaints about the site during the month of February 2019. We received one complaint on Friday 1 March 2019. Two officers attended the site on Friday 1 March and undertook an odour assessment on site and at two offsite locations.

Offsite the officers detected a faint whiff of sewage odour from the site. This was not deemed to be offensive. The odour detected offsite matched the odour detected on-site near the picket fence thickeners, which are unrelated to the activities covered by the Waste Management Licence and located outwith the Waste Management Licence boundary. Our findings were passed to City of Edinburgh Council Environmental Health on Monday 4 March.

The City of Edinburgh Council said

We can advise that we received a total of 83 Seafield odour complaints in February 2019, with 77 of these received between 24 and 28 February. Officers carried out 14 visits to the area, between 24 and 28 February, as a result of these complaints. In addition, four proactive assessments within the community were also carried out during the month and a plant inspection was carried out on 26 February.

We can confirm that mostly no or faint odours and occasionally moderate odours were witnessed on the visits made to the community during February 2019, which would not amount to what you refer to as a smell nuisance.

So although we received 57 complaint reports COEC didn’t think there was a problem. There is a problem for the local residents who have taken the time to report it.

I estimate that for every report made through the CC website there are probably 10 households who don’t

During February the CC has also been contacted by local residents because of noise which appears to have started about the same time that the most recent smell incidents were being reported. Veolia had to bring in mobile centrifuges to deal with sludge levels.

Leith Links CC received the response below from the City Council investigating noise

I refer to your emails below concerning a miscellaneous noise, causing disturbance over a wide area around Seafield / Restalrig. I’m sorry you had not received a reply, however we do not appear to have received your original email. We have now logged your complaint on our system.

With regard to the noise, I have two ongoing complaints in the
Seafield / Prospect Band area and received another from a resident in the Restalrig area yesterday. However, so far it has not been possible to witness the noise being complained off. Seafield Sewage Treatment Works (STW) were also contacted last year, however their investigations did not identify any unusual noise issues from machinery. A noise survey visit to one of the residents had been scheduled for last night, but was cancelled due to the high wind speed; as it affects noise measurements. The noise survey has been re-scheduled for next week.

Information provided from the original two residents who had complained and the fact that another two complaints have been received suggests that the noise is becoming louder and more persistent. Therefore it should make it easier to investigate the noise and determine the source.

I’ll give you an update once I have carried out the noise survey visit next week.

The noise stopped before any further investigation could take place about the same time the work stopped at Seafield.

On a balance of probability these problems are linked to Seafield.

The infrastrucure at Seafield is old and it’s failing on a more regular basis to cope with excessive levels of sludge. 

I also believe that during the most recent incidents there was a crisis at the plant that Veolia were trying to fire fight. Both SEPA and COEC have let the community down again by not investigating incidents properly.

We still have this mistaken belief by public officials that their noses and ears are better than those of the community.

Urgent action and investment at that the plant must be the way forward.

We haven’t even reached the normal smelly season during May.

Leith Links Community Council will continue to work together with the Residents Association and I promise to raise the communities concerns strongly at the next Seafield Stakeholders meeting scheduled for 260419

Jim

ParkLife Project comes to Leith Links

Click on the poster to book your free ticket.

Community Councils Together on Trams: Minutes of meeting held on Thursday 21 February 2019

Leith Links Community Council is a member of ‘Community Councils Together on Trams’ alongside Leith Central Community CouncilLeith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council and New Town & Broughton Community Council. CCTT is the coalition of Community Councils who meet regularly to discuss, scrutinise and influence the intended continuation of the Edinburgh Tram system to Newhaven.

 

Abbreviations

BAFO = best and final offer LLCC = Leith Links Community Council
CCTT = Community Councils Together on Trams LW = Leith Walk
CEC = City of Edinburgh Council NTBCC = New Town & Broughton Community Council
CPZ = controlled parking zone OBC = outline business case
CS = Constitution St POLHA = Port of Leith Housing Association
ECI = early contractor involvement SPC = swept-path contract
EIA = environmental impact assessment TAPOG = CEC’s tram all-party oversight group
FBC = full business case TfE = Transport for Edinburgh
ISC = infrastructure and systems contract TN = Trams to Newhaven project
LCCC = Leith Central Community Council TRO = traffic regulation order
LHNCC = Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council TT = trams team

TAPOG is CEC’s leader and vice-leader, CEC’s transport convenor and vice-convenor, and transport spokespersons from each party

1 Welcome, introductions

1.a Attendance

Charlotte Encombe CCTT/LCCC Rob Levick CCTT/LHNCC Harald Tobermann CCTT/LCCC
Angus Hardie CCTT/LL CC Jennifer Marlborough CCTT/LHNCC Bruce Ryan CCTT minutes secretary
Allan Jack CCTTNTBCC Andrew Mackenzie CCTT/LLCC Darren Wraight TT/CEC
Rob Leech TT/TN project Carol Nimmo CCTT/NTBCC

1.b Apologies

None

2 Update from TT

Rob Leech outlined the next steps for the final business case (FBC), and the main points of its contents.

2.a Next steps

The FBC is on (post-BAFO) schedule. It goes to

  • CEC’s transport and environment committee on 29 February
  • CEC’s finance and resources TEC committee on 7 March, to consider procurement and contracts
  • Full council on 14 March.

2.b Contents

Minuter’s note: subjunctive (‘would’, ‘should’) is used where relevant because many things will only happen if CEC approves the FBC.

2.b.1 Background

  • This project is about completion of phase 1a of the original tram scheme.
    • This should have been completed years ago, i.e. along with the existing line from the airport to York Place.
  • The existing line is performing ‘extremely well’, e.g. 7m passengers in 2018.

2.b.2 Contents

  • The FBC has been updated (from the outline business case [OBC]) to take account of tendered prices, inflation, design-changes (resulting from consultations) and the ‘support for business’ package.
  • The FBC has a section on lessons learned from building the existing line. This includes information on retaining knowledge from that project .
  • It has been prepared in accordance with Scottish Government and UK Government guidelines.
  • It contains much on the strategic case, i.e. reasons for building this extension.
    • Edinburgh’s population is set to grow by 20% by 2039.
    • Employment will also grow by 7% by 2022.
    • There is low car-ownership in the Leith area and the Leith Walk corridor.
    • CEC wishes less car-ownership/more sustainable transport, i.e. shift from private motor vehicles to public transport.
    • There is very high population on the corridor where this extension would run.
    • There is content on connectivity between employment centres, and employment during and after construction.
    • There is content on sustainable development at the waterfront.
      • Good public transport enables reduced car-dependency in such areas, hence enabling different life-choices.
      • That is, it allows people to live near their work; it reduces need for commuting and urban sprawl.
      • This would lead to improved air-quality in the tram corridor.
    • The extension would enhance Leith and Newhaven as destinations.
    • Hence chapter 3 (the strategic case) covers how this project would
      • follow UK treasury guidance (the ‘green book’), and CEC policies and strategies, e.g. local development plan
      • link 3 out of four economic centres in Edinburgh: airport/international business gateway/Edinburgh park; city centre; Leith waterfront. (Tram would not serve the SE quarter economic centre.)
    • Overall, the FBC presents tram as an enabler for growth that would not occur without it.
  • Concerning the economic case:
    • The capital cost is set to be £196m. (It was £165m in the OBC.)
      • This allows for risk, using a quantitative analysis using ‘green book’ methods.
      • It includes an amount for contractor-pricing. This was initiated by the collapse of Carillion, leading to contractors undertaking much more due diligence when tendering.
      • It also includes inflation and design-changes.
      • It also includes the ‘support for business’ package.
      • There will also be two contracts, hence increased contract-management overheads. (Management will be by a blended team, including a delivery unit containing experienced light-rail consultants, and senior CEC officials such as D Wraight. At peak, there will be around 30 CEC managers in this project.)
      • Early contractor involvement (ECI) adds some management overheads, and adds 6 months to the programme.
    • In addition to the £196m, £10m has been added for optimism bias (OB), following government guidance.
      • This takes the total cost to £207·3m, giving a benefit to cost ratio of 1·4:1. (In public transport schemes, this ration is expected to be between 1·2: 1 and 2:1, because public transport has quite high construction and operational/maintenance costs. The OBC had 1·64, but the majority of the change here is due to changed government guidance on costing time.)
      • At the start of a process (before design starts), the ‘green book’ mandates a large OB (66%). However, there is then a sliding scale based on Network Rail’s GRIP design process. This scale moves from optimism bias to quantitative risk analysis (QRA). SO FBCs should be base costs + an amount from QRA. (Economic cases should include OB, but the guidelines are ambiguous about inclusion of OB in financial cases. TT has assumed 6% OB. The OBC had 20% OB in its economic case, but not in its financial case.)
      • Also, professor Bent Flyvbjerg and colleagues have an alternative method for calculating risk, based on an ‘outsider’ view using information from similar projects about projected and actual costs. (The UK and Scottish Governments do not currently accept this method.) Flyvbjerg and colleagues calculated this project’s capital cost as £257m, not £207m. However, they recognise that the project is very advanced from the initial design stage, that some utilities have already been moved, and that this project is an extension of an existing line, not de novo. These could reduce the overall cost but such reductions are not part of their model.
      • Hence £50m (£257m – £207m) has been earmarked as a contingency to be managed by CEC’s head of finance and a finance and risk subcommittee (reporting to the project board).
      • The impact of such drawdown would increase the 2024-27 borrowing from £1·9m to £14·8m. This level of borrowing would be repaid by 2037.
      • The FBC hence considers mitigation, e.g. borrowing at less than 4·1%, moving away from parity of fares between bus and tram, and optimising tram maintenance and infrastructure costs.
    • The economic case is also based on patronage forecasts of 15·7m in 2023 (first year of operation).
      • This comes from high population densities and increased development on the corridor, e.g. Cala development.
      • Increased patronage would come from bus and car, i.e. people would use trams rather than buses.
      • Suitable wording in the FBC has been agreed with Lothian Buses (LB), recognising that this project is part of an integrated public transport framework. This section also covers what LB needs to remain robust during and after construction. These include clear radial routes into the city, e.g. double-red lines at the Roseburn shops. Hence LB wants CEC to enforce route-clarity more strongly than is done today.
      • (C Encombe suggested that implementation of a CPZ in LCCC’s area would help enhance route-clarity.)
      • (H Tobermann suggested that historically CEC has not enforced well in the past, and questioned why LB has not asked for route-clarity enforcement previously.)
    • This extension was always the part that would make Edinburgh trams financially positive.
    • There are also anticipated wider benefits, which may add between 15 and 40% to the economic case. (There is no agreed method for assessing their financial value, so they have not been monetised in the FBC.)
      • These benefits include employment opportunities, connectivity (agglomeration of businesses), linking brownfield sites with other economic centres to provide more opportunities, higher population densities.
  • The financial case centres on future tram revenues, but also relies on £20m dividend over 11 years from Lothian buses.
    • LB already pays a dividend to CEC.
    • In early years during construction, there is drawdown of money, but no revenue [from ticket sales].
    • There would be a cashflow-issue (2024 to 2027) of £1·9m. This would come from CEC’s reserves. Later, revenues should grow, enabling replenishment of CEC’s reserves.
    • This use of reserves would cause an opportunity cost. (Examination of this was inspired by the Hardie enquiry.)
    • The extension would give Edinburgh £395m economic benefit (net present value) over 60 years.
      • The FBC includes downward sensitivity-testing, around patronage and cost of borrowing. This assumes 4·1% interest, but CEC can borrow more cheaply than that. It also assumes no loss of revenue from stoppage.
  • The FBC also includes a commercial case.
    • This covers ECI and contract-conclusion.
  • The FBC also includes a management case.
    • This covers how the project will be implemented, e.g. heritage and archaeology work, large work-sites, no double-digging, support for businesses, governance.
    • There is also a section on supplementary projects. It has been agreed that CEC would fund these (e.g. from its active travel and capital roads budgets) in parallel with the tram-work. However, these are outwith the tram-project’s limit of deviation and are hence not part of the FBC. It is very likely that TT will deliver these supplementary projects.
      • The supplementary projects do not include integrated ticketing.

2.b.3 Q&A

Minuter’s note: the information in some answers has been included at relevant points in the above, so is not repeated here.

  • The cost of the completion phase is ¼ of the cost of the initial phase because the initial phase is ‘extraordinarily expensive’. Building from lessons learnt from the original tram project, firstly the contracts for this project use NEC industry standards. (The contracts for the original project were bespoke.) This form of contract mandates that contractors cannot stop work if there are (contractual) issues, and that contractors will continue to be paid.
    • Secondly there are large work sites, so contractors can (and are contractually required to) continue work in other, non-problematic areas while problems are being resolved.
    • Thirdly, excavations for utility-diversions would not be covered over, and then re-dug to enable construction. Instead, a swept-path process would be used: excavations would be dug, utilities diverted, then construction would occur. Because there would be several stretches of work using this method, if a problem occurs in any area, work can continue in other (parts of) stretches while problems are being resolved.
  • The contracts now use the NEC4 standard, rather than NEC3. The main difference is that NEC4 mandates a project bank account from which main subcontractors are paid directly. Hence, should the main contractor become insolvent, the main subcontractors would continue to be paid. This would also enable ECI.
  • There are two incentive mechanisms in the contracts:
    • During ECI, there is an incentive mechanism to reduce costs: this would benefit both the contractors and CEC.
    • Once construction starts, a ‘pain-gain’ mechanism would start on the Infrastructure & Systems Contract. That is, should costs exceed the target price, CEC would share the costs 50/50 with the contractor up to a threshold of 120% of the target price, thereafter the risk is with the contractor for all the main civil engineering works. Should costs be less than the target price, CEC and the contractor would receive equal shares of such savings. Hence th contractor would have a ‘massive’ incentive to deliver for less than the target price.
    • However, there is no incentive to cut corners. While the contractors are self-certifying. CEC’s technical services (provided by Atkins) will check contractors’ designs as they arrive. Similarly, TT will employ 3 quality-control inspectors (1 during ECI). Their sole responsibility is to be on site all through the work, checking that everything is as per the designs. TT will also inspect the inspections.
  • Price-increases were partly cause by market price-testing. (R Leech is not privy to the actual contractors’ costs for each part of the design.) However, it is very likely that risk has been priced into the costs. There were risk-costs in the OBC’s £165m costs.
    • H Tobermann stated that the construction cost has increased more from the OBC cost than he would expect.
    • R Leech responded that probably as a result of Carillion’s collapse, contractors took a more diligent approach to tendering. RL believes this is a positive step because it means prices are realistic, and contractors really understand what they are taking on. (Too often, they haven’t known, so ‘disasters’ happen during work.) ECI also adds to this positive effect.
  • TT has closely followed the evidence presented to the Hardie enquiry. It has also undertaken its own ‘lessons learnt’ process, based on knowledge from people who were involved in the original work.
    • It was suggested that the people available to this process were only involved in ‘rescuing’ the original project, so they know what went wrong but not what caused this. However, RL stated that people with knowledge of the original project, pre-mediation, are available to advise the project. Physical work would start before the end of 2019. However, ECI work will start before this, leading to some minor road-works and accompanying traffic-management. An outline of the main works is on the TT website.
  • The principles for landscaping designs have been created but detailed designs for areas such as Elm Row have yet to be finalised. This will specify details of trees etc.
  • It needs to be decided whether and how these CCTT/TT meetings will continue. However, RL believes that they have been beneficial. D Wraight stated that other groups have asked how they can be involved in these meetings.
    • H Tobermann suggested that further meetings should cover the timetable and [CCTT’s list of] supplementary projects.
  • Much documentation is being published along with the FBC. Stakeholders will be emailed when the FBC and accompanying documents are published, giving links to them.
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