River South Esk pollution issue stinks

Sewage on the River South Esk.
Sewage on the River South Esk.

Pollution has been spilling out into the River South Esk between Dalkeith and Newtongrange, leaving sanitary products and other items in the popular river.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has said it is aware of an issue there and, after carrying out a clean-up on August 1, it is continuing to monitor the situation.

Sewage on the River South Esk.

Sewage on the River South Esk.

Ian Suddaby (55) from Tranent, spotted the waste pipe while on a walk from Dalkeith to the Sun Inn at Lothian Bridge with his partner.

He said: “There is a large sewage pipe about 100 metres north of the Sun Inn that is pouring stinking sewage into the river.

“The trail of sewage sediment and sanitary waste can be traced downstream as far as Newbattle. No doubt the river has been poisoned over a much longer distance.

“There is sanitary ware stuck to the overhanging branches in the river for some distance downstream.

Sewage on the River South Esk.

Sewage on the River South Esk.

“And as it’s been so dry, I’d suggest that this pipe has been polluting the river for weeks, if not months ,as it’s been that long since we had sufficient rain for the river level to reach the branches. As these items wouldn’t have made it into the trees since the floods.

“The pollution is really obvious in the water, you can clearly see it, and it’s stinking.”

Ian is concerned about the health implications caused by the pollution in the river.

He said: “You can see the slime in the river on this stretch. I have seen children swimming in the river at Dalkeith and Musselburgh.

“So after seeing this pollution further up the river I fear for public health and the health of animals using the water.

“I’m also concerned for the eco system in the river. This will kill the fish and other life that lives there.”

Ian has also been left angry and frustrated by SEPA’s lack of response to his concerns.

He said: “I sent a notification form to SEPA via their website and I submitted a photograph and information on to their Facebook page.

“But they have not responded at all. That was five days ago. I contacted them the day I saw the pollution in the Esk. I wanted to act fast.

“Do SEPA actually check anything?”

Not a regular visitor to the river, Ian added: “It just seemed like a nice walk to do on a nice day. I’m not down there very often.

“Generally the River Esk is an enjoyable walk. But not on this occasion.

“Most of it is nice. But when I got to the stretch when you can look across to Newbattle Abbey College I could smell something. And it got worse as we went up towards the Sun Inn.

“It would put anyone off walking down what is a lovely stretch of the river.”

A spokesman from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) promised that it was monitoring the situation having carried out an initial clean-up on August 1.

He said: “Every day SEPA works to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and we are clear that compliance is non-negotiable.

“We received a number of reports from members of the public about the discharge of sewage to the River South Esk upstream from Newbattle in July.

“Whilst a clean-up operation was carried out on August 1 we are continuing to investigate this incident and would advise the public to contact our Pollution Hotline on 0800 807060 if they have information about this.”

The agency spokesman also revealed that it has contacted Mr Suddaby.

He said: “We appreciate the time taken by Mr Suddaby to report his concerns. It’s right that as a public agency, we are accountable to communities.

“We have made contact with Mr Suddaby to arrange to discuss his concerns and help ensure we get better next time.”