Fears over Midlothian dam’s safety

Robert Pitcairn of Rosslynlee Fishery
Robert Pitcairn of Rosslynlee Fishery

A fishery owner has expressed his concerns that the recently overturned refusal of piling operations could destroy a local dam.

Mainstream Renewable Energy wanted to carry out temporary piling operations at Shewington near Rosewell for 19 weeks, as geological conditions there are representative to those in the outer Forth Estuary where the company plan to create and sell an offshore wind farm. This will ensure that the chosen approach will withstand the anticipated strains.

Midlothian Council had rejected the application last June, but the Local Review Body last month overturned that decision.

Mainstream estimate that the piling (hammering the bedrock) will bring £750,000 into the local economy.

Robert Pitcairn (64), has owned the nearby Rosslynlee Fishery for 15 years. He believes this application threatens the future of not only his business, but also the reservoir itself.

He said: “This strip of land is literally adjacent to the fishery and another house.

“They are bringing in a big crane to lift up these casings and get a hydraulic hammer to force the casings into the bedrock.

“It is stated that the vibrations will be felt within 500 metres. So we have got quite a few concerns.

“One of them being the dam. I’m responsible for the security and the maintenance of the dam.

“Midlothian Council also have responsibility for it, which they just seem to have ignored.

“Worst case scenario, the dam collapses. It would flood agricultural ground. The dam has been here for well over 100 years.

“Apart from the dam it’s obviously going to affect our personal life. Our house is beside the fishery. So we are going to get it. It will affect our quality of life.

“And it’s going to wreck our business. The anglers will not come when that is going on. I’m a bit concerned about what is going to happen to our fish stocks
as well.

“That was all totally ignored by the Local Review Body.”

The site situated close to the old landfill, owned by Crown Estates, is 100 metres wide and 700 metres in length.

Mr Pitcairn, whose business employs four people, five during the summer, is still shocked that the application refusal was overturned.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was gobsmacked.

“I was allowed to give a presentation at the meeting. As was a representative from Mainstream.

“I asked if they could guarantee that no damage will occur but all that they could do was say ‘it’s highly unlikely that damage will occur’.

“There must be some questions about what it is going to do to the integrity of the dam.

“They are going to put our business under real strain, then just move on.”

A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: “The Local Review Body (LRB) were minded to grant planning permission for a proposed test piling facility on land at Shewington, Rosewell, for a temporary 19-week period after considering the merits of the application and the representations made by interested parties.

“The LRB decision is subject to agreeing conditions to mitigate the developments impact on local residents and businesses. The conditions are scheduled to be reported back to the LRB at its meeting in March.”

A spokesman for Mainstream Renewable Power said: “The piling work which is the source of the vibration will be carried out on and off for a maximum of 72 hours over a seven week period and the risk of damage to any nearby structure has been assessed as highly unlikely.

“We will provide before and after surveys on all nearby structures and will monitor the vibrations in real time. We would not carry out this work if we thought the integrity of any structure would suffer, as we will be responsible for reinstating all structures.”

The application site was previously used as the entrance area and main site compound for open cast coal workings at Newbigging and Shewington.

The site is predominantly flat and most of the top soil has been stripped and hard standing laid to accommodate the coal operations.