June 25, 2008

Sanctuary for Wildlife Turned into Sewage Tip


A NATURE reserve which offers a city sanctuary to herons, woodpeckers and kestrels has been polluted after workers diverted raw sewage from a nearby housing development.

Residents living near Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park, in Gilmerton, complained after a trench was dug to shift the foul-smelling sludge into the water.

They also said workers tried to stem the flow of the sewage by placing a large rock over a manhole cover. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency today said it was investigating a potential pollution incident at the burn.

But mystery remains over who carried out the work to get rid of the sewage, which came bubbling up from under a drain on Monday night. Scottish Water insist it was carried out by an "unknown third party".

The park, which runs through Southhouse and Gilmerton, provides a haven for wildlife and is a popular spot with locals.

James Froude, 57, who lives at nearby Gilmerton Dykes Crescent, said there had been a series of problems since more homes were built in the area.

He said: "It's just filth, you can even see loo roll. I don't know how people can put up with it, you walk up here and the smell is awful - it's like Seafield on a bad day.

"We were going to the shop when the smell from the drain was so strong that everyone using the path was covering their faces. As if this was not bad enough, you had to walk through this mess.

"I saw workmen there and all they did was put a rock on the drain and dig a small channel to guide the waste into the burn. God knows what damage this is causing to the wildlife in the water."

Scottish Water said it was aware of the problem but added that the trench had been dug by an "unknown third party" and not its workmen.

A spokesman said: "A choke was located in the sewer and removed. A clean-up operation of the area was carried out.

"A trench in the vicinity was not dug by Scottish Water engineers and, as a goodwill gesture, our engineers filled in the trench. The trench had been dug by an unknown third party.

"The trench that we filled in was diverting flows on to the footpath and not into the burn."

The park, which is run by the city council's ranger service, is home to various species of trees and birds not seen elsewhere in the city.

The council's website refers to the park as a "green corridor" which provides a "rich habitat" for birds and animals.

A spokeswoman for the Sepa urged members of the public to report further incidents at the burn.

She said: "Sepa is aware of a potential pollution incident in the Burdiehouse Burn in Edinburgh. Sepa officers have been in discussions with Scottish Water to achieve a resolution."

A council spokesman said: "We have been in contact with Scottish Water who inform us they are taking steps to sort the problem."

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