Scottish Water issue [another] apology for ongoing Seafield stench

Towards the end of last week our Community Council received many reports of foul odour emissions affecting residents quality of life, not just in the Leith Links are but also as far afield as Easter Road stadium and Pilrig. We posted an article about this on our website – Leithers despair as Seafield stench continues.

Over the weekend, in response to these complaints, and upon being challenged by Leith Links Community Council, Scottish Water have issued an apology to our community. In an email to Community Council Chairperson Jim Scanlon on Sunday Scottish Waters PFI Performance Manager (based in Dundee) said –

 I apologise to the community for us not being able to counteract the odours witnessed in recent days.

Commenting on the latest apology, Secretary of Leith Links Community Council Sally Millar said;

Community Councillor Sally Millar

The local community in the Leith Links area is frustrated, angry and sick –yes, literally, the smell makes people feel sick – of the disgusting odours of sewage emanating from the Seafield sewage plant. There has been a massive spike in complaints in the past two weeks. The weather is hot; we need to open our windows. Due to Covid19 lockdown rules, we are only allowed to go outside to exercise, play or relax near our own homes. Yet our entire area has been suffused with the foul smell of human excrement, for days on end.

These smells have been with us for decades, but none of the agents involved – the City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Water and Veolia and SEPA – seem to be able or willing to deal with this problem effectively. We are told that lots of rain causes the smells. Then we are told that lack of rain causes the smells. We are told that the wind causes the smell problem. Do they take us for idiots?

We have recently received yet another apology from Scottish Water for “not being able to counteract the odours witnessed in recent days”. But this is simply the latest in a very long line of similar apologies (a cut and paste job?). It is an insult to the local community. What we need is action and results, not continual apologies.


The latest apology, one of many issued over recent years has not been well received by local residents affected by foul odours from the site, as the comments below from residents who used our online reporting tool show;

Apologies like this might mean something if they related to genuine one-off, or at least extremely rare, occurrences. Given that we live with the stench of sewage as a backdrop for our lives roughly two days out of seven, sometimes more, an apology is pointless. The site needs to be thoroughly updated to make it fit for purpose. Frankly, I would like the people who write those apologies to live within smelling distance of Seafield for six months and see how they like it.


I know there are longer term plans to carry out works but the apology is fairly meaningless in the context of the many many years that this smell has been an issue. Only hope that with many more people exercising and utilising the space around Leith Links and the quickly increasing population growth in the area that Scottish Water and the Scottish Government recognise that this is an unacceptable situation. Safe to say such a situation wouldn’t be tolerated in certain other areas of Edinburgh so agree that pressure needs to continue and grow if anything is going to change in the shorter term.


I’ve lived in this area for 7 years now and to be honest, apologies are meaningless- I think the community deserves action.


I’m pretty bored with their meaningless apologies by now to be honest. Nothing ever changes and saying sorry doesn’t help, only putting a roof on the place will! Not sure why the Scottish Government are so reluctant to act and force their hand, especially considering the extensive local housebuilding going on that will only increase the problem on site.



So they have apologised, but are they going to make sure it won’t happen again? They have been saying “sorry” for years. I have lived near Leith Links for almost 20 years and my daughter has grown up associating good weather with bad smells. When we want to open the windows, play or eat in the garden, we have to ‘test the air’ first for appalling aromas. We have lost count of the number of family events that have been spoiled by the Seafield stench or the number of stifling summer nights with the windows shut. Memorably, my grandfather’s funeral at Seafield crematorium where my London relatives were appalled at the smell.

There is a solution to this but they don’t want to pay for it, so ‘sorry’ is meaningless. I’d much prefer covered tanks to ‘sorry’. This ‘sorry’ means ‘it’s a shame your garden smells of sewage but we don’t want to spend our profits on covering the tanks, so it will continue to smell of sewage’.

Leith Links Community Council encourages our community to continue to report any foul odour emissions from Seafield which negatively impact upon their quality of life and / or anyones health & well being.