Pollution campaign in running for award

Local MSP Colin Beattie (left) and Stuart Forbes, volunteer co-ordinator, during a site visit at the Mary Burn.
Local MSP Colin Beattie (left) and Stuart Forbes, volunteer co-ordinator, during a site visit at the Mary Burn.

A Midlothian campaign against sewage pollution in the River Esk has been nominated for a national award.

The ‘#ImBackCaring – Clean the River’ campaign, which was started by Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust (MAEDT), is a finalist in SCVO’s Scottish Charity Awards 2019 in the ‘Cracking Campaign’ category.

Campaigners are also in the running for the ‘People’s Choice’ Award and is seeking backing from the local community to help take the top spot.

The group has been raising awareness since August of the problems of sewage entering Midlothian’s waterways. A social media campaign backed by graphic videos and photos gained wide community support – and prompted action by the local MSP Colin Beattie, who took the issue up with Scottish Water and asked questions in the Scottish Parliament.

In response, Scottish Water began a seven-month clean-up operation, removing more than 20 tons of waste and installing upgrades to the local sewer system and ran a ‘what not to flush’ campaign involving primary children in designing posters to raise awareness.

Midlothian activist Joy Godfrey, who features in the pollution videos, said: “It’s amazing to be nominated for a Cracking Campaign award, especially as we started out with no budget, just two people with some latex gloves and a mobile phone, making videos of sewage in a river.

“We never dreamed our work would be noticed so quickly or that so many people would be so ready to make positive change for the environment.

“People and organisations across Midlothian and the Esk catchment have supported the campaign have taken action to press for political and behavioural change.”

Stuart Forbes, MAEDT volunteer co-ordinator, said the campaign has already been recognised by the Scottish Parliament for its positive engagement, but pointed out that sewage pollution is still causing problems in Scotland’s rivers.”

He added: “I would ask people to vote for our campaign in the ‘People’s Choice’ Award so that the issue of river cleanliness and sewer capacity can be brought to collective consciousness and addressed in Scotland in time for future generations to enjoy clean rivers.”

Votes for the campaign can be cast at https://scvo.org/scottish-charity-awards/vote-2019/cracking-campaign.

Voting closes on May 17.