More than half of councils see rise in sewage dumps

12 Apr 2024
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP

Scottish Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today said that the SNP-Green Government “haven’t lifted a finger” to tackle Scotland’s sewage scandal after new figures analysed by his party revealed that the number of sewage dumps increased in most council areas between 2022 and 2023.

Across the whole of Scotland in 2023, there was a 10% increase in the number of sewage dumps, with 21,660 discharges logged.

Analysis by Scottish Liberal Democrats of data from Scottish Water shows that 20 councils experienced an increase in sewage dumps between 2022 and 2023 alone. The data also reveals that:

  • Between 2022 and 2023, Fife experienced the biggest percentage increase in sewage dumps, with the number of dumps almost quadrupling from 213 to 733.
  • Moray also saw a huge rise over the single year, with the number of sewage dumps increasing by 117.5%.
  • Argyll & Bute had the highest number of sewage dumps with 3,768 in 2023 and dumping lasting 30,078 hours.
  • Sewage dumps in South Lanarkshire totalled 3,111 and lasted 27,682 hours in 2023, while the number of dumps in Dumfries & Galloway came to 2,397 and lasted 24,682 hours.

These figures are likely to be underestimates because Scottish Liberal Democrat research has revealed that there is no monitoring of sewage dumping at all in three local authorities: Dundee, East Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh. In  ten more local authorities (Angus, Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire) just one or two more sites are monitored.

Scottish Water has pledged to deliver 1,000 additional monitors by the end of 2024, but this will still mean less than half of the Scottish network will be monitored.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“Communities across Scotland will be alarmed by such big upticks in sewage dumps.

“SNP and Green ministers haven’t lifted a finger to address this scandal. Instead, they sit idle while our rivers, coastlines and waterways take a battering.

“The true scale of the problem is likely a lot worse because very few sewage pipes are properly monitored. While ministers hide the dirtier reality, the government-owned water company is hiking its prices for customers and rewarding its executives with bumper bonuses.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have published plans for a Clean Water Act that would see vital updates to our sewage network and a clamp down on discharges. If the SNP and Greens are at all serious about protecting the environment, they will stop excusing sewage dumping and listen to our plans.”

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