Save Our Seil campaigners vow to fight on

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Save Our Seil campaigners will keep fighting Scottish Water plans for a new £5.6 million waste water treatment on the island.

The planning application for the new treatment plant tucked into a hillside opposite the current works site will be submitted at the end of March and has divided opinion on Seil.

Campaigners from the Save Our Seil (SOS) group believe the existing treatment site would work fine if a way of stopping excess rainwater getting into its system could be found but were told by Scottish Water it would not be feasible.

Now the group finds itself arguing an alternative site at a brownfield quarry further along the coast from Sea View would have been the best choice even though it  would still not be a ‘great solution’.

SOS spokeswoman Lisa Robinson said: ‘If I approached the council and asked to build a house on the hillside site that they are proposing, I would be laughed out of the room.

‘Scottish Water will say they want that site for operational need. We say there’s no need. There is a brownfield quarry site far away enough from people’s houses with hardly any visual impact. The site further on from Sea View is the least worst scenario.

‘The problem fundamentally is that we are now arguing for something that we don’t think is a great solution anyway.’

And she added: ‘We have spoken to our councillors, the community council and Scottish Water at every stage as we have followed the proposal and consultation process but we’ve just been told no, no, no – the decision has been made.

‘The only option left to us now is to complain once the application goes through to the planners in March but even then we can only comment on the site they have gone for. We can’t comment on why the alternative site would have been better but we will be objecting strongly to the option they have pushed forward.’

The SOS group also has concerns the local stakeholders’ group, which unanimously agreed the hillside option as the best option, was not properly constituted and was effectively a closed group.

Campaigners have also questioned why ‘so much time and money has been wasted on public information events if there was never any intention of listening to what was being said’ by the wider community and who will be accountable for the delivery of the proposal, ‘given that the decision as to the nature and positioning of the works was determined by the stakeholder group’.

A spokesman for  Scottish Water said the public consultations events were required as part of the council’s legislative planning process and that Scottish Water would be accountable, not the local stakeholders, because the treatment works was its project.

The stakeholders’ group previously told The Oban Times its members had decided the chosen option would use ‘tried and tested technology’ to maintain the natural environment and amenity of Seil, making sure the waste water was manged in a way that minimised impact on islanders and their surroundings, well away from housing and hidden from view as far as possible.

In November, planners approved Scottish Water’s proposal to give houses at Sea View their own underground septic tank instead of their waste going straight into the sea.

Scottish Water representatives will be at the next community council meeting on March 26 at 6.30pm in Seil hall. They were first invited in July 2017 and repeatedly since but have not taken up the offer before now.

‘No one was more surprised than me when I walked into the consultation event last week and they said they would be coming to our next meeting,’ said Julie Ferris from the community council.

The meeting is open to the public.