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Scottish Water has revealed its timeline to get a planning application in by early next year for its new £5.6 million waste water treatment site on Seil.
The saga of where to locate the plant has rumbled on for more than two years, splitting opinion among islanders.
But a favoured proposal unanimously agreed by a group of stakeholders is now moving forward.
The option also has the support of independent consultant Chris Chubb, who said he was ‘firmly of the opinion’ that it offers the best environmental outcome for the residents of Seil.
Last week Scottish Water hosted a drop-in session to update islanders on the project.
Scottish Water’s head of corporate relations, Alan Thompson, said: ‘We believe we have been through a robust process, with unanimous agreement from the stakeholders group, to come to the proposal we are going forward with but we always knew we would not get unanimous support from everyone on the island. We do believe it is the best option that people can live with but we will continue to engage with people.’
Third generation islander Isobelle Smith is all for the option that will see a new treatment plan tucked into a hillside opposite the current works site. A new access road, altered to minimise impact on pine martens, badgers and otters, will also have to be built.
Golfer Ms Smith said doing away with the horrors of the current failing site would literally be a breath of fresh air. She said stray golfballs landing on the shoreline were often covered in sewage.
‘As far as I have learned, this is the solution to a problem that has been ongoing for too long. My only statement to Scottish Water is to get it started as soon as you can. I would like to have an area of the golf course that is not being polluted by next summer,’ she said.
But Donald Macpherson, who has lived on Seil most of his life, disagrees with the proposal and accused Scottish Water of ‘bulldozing’ the option through. He and many others, he says, have strongly objected to it and will keep on opposing it.
‘By putting it up on the hillside, they are destroying a beautiful site. I and many others are not in agreement with what they want to do. There’s a massive quarry down by Seaview, a brownsite, so why don’t they put it there? It would cost less. I feel they are just bulldozing this through. They’ve already made up their minds regardless of what we think,’ he told The Oban Times.
Seil resident John Gordon, on the local stakeholder group, said members had unanimously decided that the chosen option would use ‘tried and tested technology’ to maintain the natural environment and amenity of Seil, making sure the waste water was managed in a way that minimised impact on islanders and their surroundings, well away from housing and main roads and hidden from view as far as possible.
Paul Milligan, from Amey-Black & Veatch, said ‘it won’t smell of roses’ but added sealants are a lot better now. Spills from the current system means raw sewage is entering Seil Sound and Balvicar Bay about 200 days a year.
Last month planners approved Scottish Water’s plan to give houses at Seaview their own underground septic tank – at the moment their waste goes straight into the sea.
There will be another public consultation event at Seil Community Hall in January before the planning proposal is finally submitted.