The Seafield Stench – latest update

by Leith Links Community Councillors Eileen Simpson & Jim Scanlon

Leith Links Community Council (LLCC) attended a ‘Stakeholders’ Meeting’ held on Friday 19 May at the Seafield Waste Water Treatment Plant. These meetings take place 2-3 times a year. The group is made up of representatives from:

  • Veolia (the French-based multinational company who manage the plant, on a PFI contract)
  • SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency),
  • Scottish Water (publicly owned statutory corporation providing water and sewerage services across Scotland),
  • City of Edinburgh Council officials
  • Elected politicians – local councillors and MSP (Chair)
  • Local interest groups (LLCC and Leith Links Residents Association (LLRA)).

The role of Leith Links Community Council is to speak up for, and to fight for the local community, by working together with others to end the disgusting smells and potentially toxic emissions from the sewage plant, that local residents have had to put up with for years. Along with LLRA, we champion the rights of local residents and try to hold to account the companies and the Council that have so far failed to remedy this odour nuisance situation.

Attending these meetings for several years, we have listened again and again to past and present operators explaining plant and management failures that have caused the terrible stench. However, at this meeting, because there had been so many of your complaints about the dreadful smells for over a fortnight in late April-early May 2017, there was– unusually, for once – no attempt to suggest things were OK or improving, and the Veolia Senior Site Manager, who does not normally attend, started off with a major apology, acknowledging that Veolia failed the community (and has commercially suffered with reputational damage as a result).

These were the main outcomes of what was a challenging meeting. The first is the most significant:

  • TheGood Housekeeping’ approach was agreed to be inadequate

It was finally acknowledged that the smells cannot be eliminated or even minimised just by ‘good housekeeping’ – which has been the official position until now. It was publicly admitted that the plant is out of date and prone to problems, and needs significant new capital investment. Getting to this stage is a major achievement.

  • Burning rubber smells

Acknowledging that these were caused by a separate leakage of toxic gases, and that there have been recent recurrences of this, Veolia has now invested in a new ‘Vent Air Burner’ for the filter which was causing the leaks. This will be fitted in July and we are assured that there will be no more emissions from this filter. (But if you smell it, report it right away!)

  • Sludge spillage smells

SEPA took enforcement action against Veolia Water for spilling sludge (again!) and causing the noxious odours in the community in April-May. However, there was no financial penalty associated with enforcement. City of Edinburgh Council could have taken their own Enforcement Action but didn’t. Officials said that they had written to Veolia informing them that they would have taken action had SEPA not done so.

It is disappointing that no stronger action was taken by either SEPA or the Council, after the recent protracted series of terrible odour emissions.

It was highly ironic that as we left the building after the meeting, we noticed smells!  And later in the day (2pm-8pm approx) these became extreme. However it is heartening for us to hear that the Council received very many calls from local people about this, and sent out a team to respond. We wait to hear if any enforcement action takes place.

Complaint calls result in specially trained Council officials visiting home owners and using the ‘sniff’ test. If they record a smell as ‘strong and persistent’ (which, informally, on many visits they have admitted to us that they do perceive it as) it should be classed as a ‘statutory nuisance’. Will the City Council take any action this time?

  • Scottish Government Review

We knew that a Review of the Code of Practice covering Seafield was in process, and had been led to believe that local representatives would be able to contribute to this.

However a letter to MSP Ben MacPherson from Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, made it clear that the review process was already complete, and that reviewers found that:

(plants are)‘…well run, and incidents which give rise to malodour are very rare’.

And that ‘there are a low number of incidents and enforcement is available when required’.

These findings definitely bear no relationship to the smelly reality we all experience! Ben MacPherson MSP has now arranged a meeting with the Minister to discuss this and has asked for community representation. We hope to be able to clarify how wrong the findings are, in no uncertain terms, and to press for urgent capital investment in the plant.

But who will pay for this is likely to be the ‘big question’….

  • Easier reporting

In the meantime, Council staff are working on putting in place a more straightforward method of reporting smell nuisance, and this should be available very soon after the general election.

Legal Redress?

Ben MacPherson MSP has established that a new Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation Bill will be introduced at Holyrood in this Parliamentary year. The Bill will include provisions to allow for the introduction of a multi-party action procedure in Scotland. If that gets voted through, it means that, for the first time, members of the community affected by the Seafield smells may be able to seek legal redress against those responsible. Interesting…..

Meanwhile – Keep Complaining!

Even though you may all be tired of complaining, please be assured that is definitely not pointless: the overwhelming number of complaints in recent weeks (far more than in the whole of the previous financial year) is having a significant effect. Complaint calls and emails are the main way by which the Council assesses the level of smell nuisance.

So it is VITAL that we all keep reporting every smell we notice from Seafield, using the following numbers/email address. It is particularly important that any burning rubber smell is reported immediately (scc@sepa.org.uk)

Thank you for taking action. We will continue to fight on your behalf.

 

Election hustings success

Our long awaited hustings event for candidates standing in the Leith Ward (Ward 13) was held yesterday evening in Leith Community Education Centre.

 

Four of the five candidates standing attended and answered twelve questions from the assembled audience of 35 members of our community.

 

 

Throughout the night we published various Twitter and Facebook postings using #LeithHustings view collated Tweets by us & others by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

Candidates who took part were;

  • Chas Booth (Scottish Green Party)
  • Adam McVey (Scottish National Party)
  • Gordon Munro (Scottish Labour Party)
  • Paul Penman (Scottish Conservative Party)

 

The twelve questions were diverse;

  • Trams – if they come to Leith do you support additional business rates relief for affected local businesses.
  • Poverty – what battles will candidates fight to lift families out of poverty.
  • Rape & womans rights – will candidates condemn rape clause and what is their position on the tendering of domestic abuse services.
  • Leith Links – what will they do to improve the Leith Links area, specific mention of refuse related issues on Leith Links and HMO properties surrounding the Links.
  • Rape – what will candidates do to ensure there is help for rape victims to come report such crimes, and quickly. Also, how will they ensure that the third sector doesn’t become politicised.
  • Planning – what will candidates do to ensure that people are brought to Leith / kept in Leith.
  • Environment – what will candidates do to tidy up Leith, including getting bins emptied.
  • Seafield smell – how do candidates see this being resolved.
  • Libraries – what will candidates do to ensure services maintained.
  • Housing – rent controls for Edinburgh, yes or no.
  • Democracy – candidates thoughts on ensuring more power for local democracy.
  • Environment – will candidates be taking part in the next Leithers Don’t Litter community clean up. Also, are they against bottled water being used on City of Edinburgh Council premises.

 

Who are the candidates?  Follow this link to find a list of candidates.

Where to vote?  Follow this link to find details of polling places.

Register to vote? Follow this link to find out how to register to vote.

How to vote?  Follow this link to find details on how to vote.

If you live within the red line – you live in Leith Ward.

NB: Leith Links Community Council is a non political organisation and is not affiliated with any political party or cause. This event has been organised on a neutral non aligned basis.

 

Quiz the candidates standing in Leith Ward

It’s election time again and we are hosting an opportunity for members of our community to quiz the candidates on local Leith matters on Wednesday 19 April 2017, from 18:30, in Leith Community Centre (Kirkgate). Questions will be taken from the floor so this is a real opportunity for members of our community attending to quiz the candidates on issues that matter to them, providing they are Leith related and within the power of an elected Councillor.

 

 

There are five candidates standing for three seats, all have been invited to take part;

  • BOOTH, Chas (Scottish Green Party)
  • DIJKSTRA-DOWNIE, Sanne (Scottish Liberal Democrats)
  • MCVEY, Adam (Scottish National Party (SNP))
  • MUNRO, Gordon John (Labour and Co-operative Party)
  • PENMAN, Paul (Scottish Conservative and Unionist)

 

Where to vote?  Follow this link to find details of polling places.

Register to vote? Follow this link to find out how to register to vote.

How to vote?  Follow this link to find details on how to vote.

If you live within the red line – you live in Leith Ward.

NB: Leith Links Community Council is a non political organisation and is not affiliated with any political party or cause. This event has been organised on a neutral non aligned basis.

Leith Links Community Council | February public meeting

The next public meeting of Leith Links Community Council is approaching;

  • Monday 27 February 2017
  • From 7pm
  • Leith Community Education Centre (Newkirkgate)

All members of our community are welcome to attend.

There will be an opportunity for members of our community to ask questions & raise any concerns with us, the Police and with other local elected representatives.

The full agenda is available here, and the minutes from our previous meeting is available here.

Seafield waste collection & transfer site

At the January 2017 meeting of Leith Links Community Council there was some discussion relating to the recent closure of Powderhall Waste Transfer Station and its impact upon our area.  A waste transfer station is being established at Seafield Community Recycling Centre and there were some concerns about possible odour & traffic problems arising.

Councillor Adam McVey, Leith Ward and Vice – Convenor of the Transport & Environment Committee of City of Edinburgh Council agreed to put some information together for us to circulate amongst the community to make clear the situation.

Please do provide us with any feedback in the comments section below.


Powderhall waste transfer station was closed after discussions with SEPA, who issue the licence and monitor compliance, after a number of concerns regarding the operation and condition of the site were raised.

The closure is happening ahead of the new state of the art waste treatment plant at Millerhill coming on-stream.

Interim arrangements have been put in place to use a commercially run existing facility at Granton. The end destination of the City’s waste for processing will remain the same until the new site at Millerhill is up and running.

 The Community Recycling site at Seafield is being developed to include a new collection depot and waste transfer station. When complete (around April 2018) about 1/3 of the City’s waste will be tipped at Seafield and then taken to Millerhill when the plant is operational. In the interim period of Seafield being operational but Millerhill not yet on-stream (as little as 6 months between both happening) waste will be taken to the existing destination of Dunbar.

Traffic movements have been taken into consideration. As part of the second phase of the changes at Seafield, a new access road to the Seafield Community Recycling Centre will be constructed to improve access for residents and allow for safer queuing areas during busy times.

There is a significant difference between Powderhall and the new uses being built at Seafield. Powerhall is a very old and unreliable waste disposal facility. The new Seafield depot is, first and foremost, intended as a waste collection depot where staff and vehicles will be based. The second phase of the project will be to build a waste transfer shed on site. This will allow the operational vehicles to deposit waste into a shed, for it then to be bulked and transferred to the end disposal facility. This will allow our bin lorries to spend less time travelling to tip and more time undertaking collections. The majority of the Council’s waste is deposited in Powderhall, where as only around 30% to 40% will be deposited at Seafield. The handling equipment at Powderhall is very complex and prone to mechanical problems where as Seafield will be operated with very simple equipment that is robust and easy to replace. The new Seafield facility will have to be constructed in line with guidance from SEPA and will require effective odour limiting controls meaning the impact on the surrounding area will be incomparable with Powerdhall.


Seafield smells | Don’t give up, please always complain

There continues to be cause for complaint by local residents due to ongoing nuisance odours from the Seafield Sewage Works.

Whilst Leith Links Residents Association and Leith Links Community Council continue to fight for a resolution it is vitally important that those affected by any nuisance odour report such instances, at the time, every time.

The more reports made the better.  Even if a neighbour or someone nearby phones & complains, you should still complain too.

Burning type smells should be reported to;

Sewage type smells should be reported to;

 

 

Quiz the candidates | Leith Ward 13 election hustings

Leith Links Community Council has organised an election hustings so that local people can ask candidates standing in the City of Edinburgh Council elections what their opinion is on local important issues.

We don’t know who will be taking part yet as not all parties have selected their candidates but there is an open invitation to all parties & any independents who stand.

  • Wednesday 19 April 2017
  • 18:30
  • Leith Community Education Centre (Kirkgate)

Please do share our Facebook event, and watch out for posters & leaflets around the community promoting the event.

PS – Don’t worry, we know it’s a few months away so we will remind you all again nearer the time.

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