Scottish Water’s £5.6m plan runs dry on Seil

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Solving Seil’s water treatment woes has gone back to square one after years of causing disruption and splitting opinions on the island.

Despite years of consultations, heated debate and coming up with options about where to locate a new water treatment work on the island, Scottish Water has now decided not to move.

Instead of relocating the works from Clachan Seil to a hillside site, Scottish Water’s preferred option is now to stay put and enhance the existing process with an ultraviolet (UV) treatment.

Seil Community Council convenor Zim Knight said: ‘After all the disruption and all the division they have caused on the island over the years, it’s so frustrating. We are back to square one. It’s an embarrassment to them. This must have cost them millions just to abort it now.’

Talks had gone so far to suggest Scottish Water needed to give something back to the community to make up for years of uncertainty and waste water issues – including sewage being discharged into Balvicar Bay. But nothing ever came of helping pay for motorhome tap and waste disposal facilities either, said Mr Knight.

In November 2020, Scottish Water announced it wanted to defer its planning bid to deliver the new multi-million pound waste water treatment works blaming the decision on ‘a significant increase in the final detailed cost estimates to deliver the proposed new works.’

A review was carried out.

‘How much money have they wasted on all this?’ asked Mr Knight.

A meeting to update the community council and a number of local stakeholders has now been held and Scottish Water will be writing to residents.

The commitment remains to provide a long-term, sustainable waste water treatment system for Seil, said a Scottish Water spokesperson.

The findings of a review concluded that the option to stay at the same site and enhance the existing process with an ultraviolet treatment would bring significant benefits, including achieving the necessary environmental standards, significantly less community disruption during construction, reduced carbon emissions and lower capital cost.

‘We will now finalise the design for this option and will re-engage with the community at the appropriate time,’ added the Scottish Water spokesperson.

General consensus from Save Our Seil who campaigned against the hillside location, said it was ‘a plus point’ that Scottish Water was no longer going for that site but the latest preferred option was still not the best outcome for the whole of the island.

‘We are quite happy that common sense has prevailed in that the middle of the island was not the place to have the new works but Scottish Water is still not considering the whole island’s needs which is contrary to the new Islands Act. At some point Ellenabeich will need sewage provision,’ he said.

Scottish Water says plans to build a small septic tank at Seaview remain unchanged but will need planning permission from Argyll and Bute Council and also a discharge licence.