Top up taps reach magical milestone at Glenfinnan

Local MSP Kate Forbes, right, formally launched the new top up tap at Glenfinnan, watched by Emily Bryce, NTS operations manager, and Scottish Water Chief Executive, Douglas Millican. Photograph: Chris Watt/chriswattphotography. NO F29 Glenfinnan tap 01
Local MSP Kate Forbes, right, formally launched the new top up tap at Glenfinnan, watched by Emily Bryce, NTS operations manager, and Scottish Water Chief Executive, Douglas Millican. Photograph: Chris Watt/chriswattphotography. NO F29 Glenfinnan tap 01

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With the official launch of Scottish Water’s 50th water refill tap, in the magical setting of Glenfinnan on Friday, it means the equivalent of half a million plastic bottles are now being saved.

The milestone figure was announced by Scottish Water as local constituency MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Kate Forbes, helped launch the latest blue top-up tap at the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) visitor centre at the head of Loch Shiel.

The blue top-up taps are aimed at helping people stay hydrated on the go – saving them money as well as being kinder to the environment by reducing litter and waste.

More than 187,000 litres of water have been dispensed from the taps into refillable bottles. It adds up to the same as 500,000 330ml plastic bottles.

This is the first refill partnership between Scottish Water and the trust, which cares for the Glenfinnan Monument which pays tribute to the clansmen who rose for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

Glenfinnan has now also become world-renowned as a location for the Harry Potter films, with more than 400,000 tourists flocking to see the Jacobite Steam Train replicate the Hogwarts Express as it crosses the 21-arched viaduct.

Speaking at the launch, Scottish Water Chief Executive, Douglas Millican, said it was an exciting moment to see the 50th tap start flowing at Glenfinnan amidst the spectacular landscape at the head of Loch Shiel.

‘We launched these taps to make it easier to top up with fresh drinking water on the go and encourage people to stay hydrated, save money and help protect the planet.  And that is what has happened,’ he added.

‘We’ve had incredible feedback from people thanking us for installing taps where they live or places they visit with many saying it prompted them to start carrying a refill bottle.

‘We now have a growing network of refill taps the length and breadth of Scotland issuing free, tasty tap water at the push of a button with plans for many more to help the growing thirst for sustainability to continue.’

As well as Ms Forbes, Mr Millican was joined by members of Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band who played some traditional Scottish tunes to mark the milestone. The date for launch coincided with Plastic Free July, a global movement to promote the reduction in single-use plastics.

Ms Forbes said in Glenfinnan they could not have found a more spectacular setting to install the 50th top-up tap.

‘Local residents and the NTS have worked closely together to respond to the site’s huge growth in popularity in recent years. The top-up tap is a great addition to the recently improved infrastructure and I’m confident it will be very well used,’ Ms Forbes added.

‘The growing network of top-up taps have already saved the equivalent of half a million single-use plastic bottles. Carrying a refillable water bottle is a small change we can all make to stay hydrated and play our part in looking after special places like Glenfinnan, as well as protecting the planet from plastic waste.’

Emily Bryce, NTS operations manager at the historic site, commented: ‘As a conservation charity we are keen to reduce our environmental footprint and give our visitors the opportunity to do the same.

‘This top-up tap complements this perfectly, alongside solar panels heating the water in our visitor centre, compostable cutlery and cups in our café, and incentives for those arriving by public transport.’

Harry Potter fans Amy, 11, and seven-year-old Ross McCreadie, were among the first people to try out the new tap at Glenfinnan. The siblings had travelled up from Motherwell for a holiday specially to see where their favourite wizard had been.

Harry Potter fans Amy, 11, and seven-year-old Ross McCreadie with their water bottles which can now be refilled at the top up tap at Glenfinnan. Photograph: Chris Watt/chriswattphotography. NO F29 Glenfinnan tap inside
Harry Potter fans Amy, 11, and seven-year-old Ross McCreadie with their water bottles which can now be refilled at the top up tap at Glenfinnan.
Photograph: Chris Watt/chriswattphotography.

Amy said: ‘We love the Harry Potter books and films and know how special this place is. Having this tap here makes it even more magical because you get lovely, free water and it saves us Muggles having to search about to find somewhere to get a drink.

‘It also gives us an excuse to use your Harry Potter refill bottle which helps save the environment.’

The first tap was installed outside the Scottish Parliament in November 2018 and since then they have been turned on in a range of venues from Shetland to the Scottish Borders.

The taps, which are maintained weekly, are plumbed directly into the public water supply and each has digital tracking technology which logs how much water is being used and how much plastic potentially saved.