Campaigners took a sewage protest to Highland councillors yesterday urging them to halt Scottish Water’s upgrade of its Ardersier plant and try alternative technology.
The objectors have questioned its assurances, fearing the worst for the tourist and dolphin-friendly waters of the Moray Firth.
The upgrade is to accommodate a growing human population and entire new town at Tornagrain – where objectors say a new water treatment works should be built.
They faced planning committee members, holding banners promoting Forres firm Biomatrix’s “eco” technology which was recently heralded at several council meetings by Nairn councillor Liz MacDonald as an “environmental solution.”
Jenny Maylin, chairwoman of the Ardersier Foundation pressure group, said: “We’re still fighting to stop the works, to have it re-evaluated and to consider using the Biomatrix system instead because it’s cost and environmentally effective. The issue isn’t on the agenda today. We just want councillors to know we’re still here.”
She alleged that a badger sett had been disturbed during preparatory work in Ardersier. Scottish Water insisted an ecological survey before work began showed no evidence of badger activity at the site.
The utility is investing £11million in an upgrade involving specialist UV technology that promises to improve water quality before it is discharged into the firth.
A spokesman for Scottish Water said: “The work began in December. We’ll shortly be starting our other planned work to meet the needs of housing and economic growth in the area.”
Asked if Biomatrix technology could cope with an additional 30,000-plus population, company spokesman Galen Fulford said: “Ecological water treatment is capable of handling full-scale wastewater treatment applications and can often be a cost-effective and environmentally suitable water treatment solution. That said, the process of selecting a suitable treatment solution for any location is complex.
“We’d be happy to discuss the technical feasibility and treatment approach of any location with Scottish Water and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency if invited to do so.”