Anger Over Scottish Water’s Failure to Consult Fishing Community

The admission by Scottish Water that some of the works associated with improvements to the sewage system in Stromness were not done according to the original plans have been branded as not going far enough by Orkney Fisheries Association.

The letter from Scottish Water says:

“our site team carried out an investigation and discovered that the headwall was constructed 450mm higher than the original design. Work is now being undertaken to remedy this and we are in discussion with our contractor to ensure that this situation is not repeated at other outfall locations.”

A spokesperson for Orkney Fisheries Association told the Orkney News:
“This does not go far enough.”
“As part of issuing the initial marine works licence all sea users should have been contacted – householders is not enough, Scottish Water have made a glaring botch of this. Marine licensing is a Scottish Government function that goes beyond the reach of OIC and community councils.”
“Orkney Fisheries Association receive  consultations on fibre optic cables, north sea pipeline, electricity cables, survey work for sites all around the UK including many works involving renewable installations. We are fully involved in consultations and giving advice on all of these especially within Orkney waters and have worked with developers in the past to ensure that pipes and cables are buried in sediment where they may interfere with fishing activity. It is therefore gobsmacking that OFA were never consulted on this issue for works within a working fishing harbour where fishermen live and continue to set creels, moor keep boxes, beach their boats for repair and maintenance and use their piers for loading and unloading gear.”
“Even had we remained outwith the consultation the presumption agreed with the Scottish Government is that pipes are to be buried and anything proud of the sea bed should have a clearance for fishing vessels to pass over – this has not happened at Merrimans/Cloustons Pier with the fixed well head. “
pipe laying 2

photo Orkney Fisheries

“What is occurring also is surface laying of pipes, subsequent concrete mattress laying and in addition rock dumping. Burial means trenching into sediment to a depth where vessels and other users are not compromised by the reduction in water depth. Beyond that the engineering logic of placing rubble on top of rock mattressing is for an environment where it will remain stable. In Stromness Harbour where motion can be considerable this rubble will be washed away and scattered exposing the rock mattressing and potentially causing build up elsewhere within the harbour which could even compromise water depth for the ferry – if you don’t know where that rubble has gone it will create a navigation hazard.”


Local MSP John Finnie, Scottish Greens who raised the concerns of resident Arthur Robertson with Scottish Water said:

“I very much welcome the work undertaken by Scottish Water at Merrimans Nest which will improve the water quality at Stromness Harbour. When major work like this it is vital that extensive community engagement takes place and I am pleased to see that Scottish Water have done this. I am pleased SW acknowledge their error and are taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation and, importantly are working with their contractor to ensure this does not happen again.”

The spokesperson for Orkney Fisheries Association commented:

“OFA have complained to Marine Licensing Scotland about not being included in the consultation on this. We as an Association also care about the cultural history of fishing and of the town as well as its economic well-being and are alarmed that other recreational users rights to the sea, their legitimate access and ability to further their enjoyment  are being severely compromised by this work in particular the boat noust and beach at Login’s Well where generations have used this particular area.”
“In all my experience working with companies I have never seen a situation as poor as this, where the main indigenous industry of Stromness has been so disastrously omitted from the equation.”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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