After an investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the company pleaded guilty to allowing partially treated sewage effluent and activated sludge to escape the works and make its way to wetlands directly dependent on the Loch.

SEPA officers attended the scene in October 2010, after a complaint from a member of the public and witnessed sludge spilling from a ditch and seeping into the wetlands next to the Loch.

Scottish Water was warned to stop the unauthorised discharge as a matter of urgency but the spill continued and through SEPA’s investigations, it was found that a delay in maintenance could have contributed towards the pollution.

SEPA’s investigating officer, John McKechnie said that the Loch was a sensitive location as it is a Scottish Natural Heritage designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for standing open water and assemblages of breeding birds and an RSPB bird reserve. It is also an important salmon fishery within the Black Cart River catchment.

“Scottish Water is fully aware of the sensitive nature of this location. By failing to ensure the works were maintained and fully operational, Scottish Water created a very significant pollution event, caused a local amenity to be closed for over a week, and created a great deal of concern amongst members of the local community,” he said.

Conor McGlone

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