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

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