THE watchdog scrutiny panel of Scottish Borders Council is to review the thorny issue of the region’s sewage infrastructure in the coming year, writes Andrew Keddie.
The decision to investigate the current and future provision of waste water treatment works was agreed last week on the suggestion of Councillor Gavin Logan, whose Tweeddale East ward includes Clovenfords and Cardrona.
The Tory councillor recently expressed reservations about planning applications for housing developments in both these communities and the ability of Scottish Water to deliver the necessary sewage disposal provision to service them.
In September 2009, the quango received consent for a major upgrade of its Caddonfoot facilities serving Clovenfords.There is planning permission for 100 new houses there and a village school is under construction. Mr Logan said Scottish Water had not yet done the work because of budgetary pressures.
“The upgrade, evident to all villagers aware of the visible plume from the outfall into the Tweed where it is joined by the Caddon Water, was required by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency [SEPA],” said Mr Logan.
“Residents of Cardrona have complained for a number of years about odours and the functionality of their reed-bed sewage system and my call for SBC to commission an independent assessment of waste water infrastructure in the village was rejected, which is unfortunate.
“I read recently in TheSouthern about problems with the Kelso treatment plant and the concern about an ongoing pong.
“It seems there are problems all over the Borders and it’s clear that many old sewage systems will no longer have the capacity to cope with additional developments and are struggling to cope at the moment.
“I feel we can no longer ignore the fact our sewage infrastructure is often inadequate and we cannot just keep adding new developments without considering the consequences.
“This is not a criticism of Scottish Water, which doubtless has to balance its resources against priorities, but we need it, with SEPA, to give a realistic assessment of where we stand and that is the purpose of the scrutiny.”
The sewage inquiry will be included in the scrutiny work programme for 2011, agreed last week by the full council.
Among other topics to be considered by the all-party panel of backbench councillors is how SBC works with local communities to clear snow and how repairs to roads and pavements are prioritised. The request for this review came from Stow and Walkerburn community councils.
A hearing will be held on the role of SBC members in planning issues, and the scheme under which planning officials determine applications for householder developments will be reviewed.
As reported last week, the watchdog will hold a hearing into how SBC can improve its policy on drug and alcohol misuse by young people in the Borders. It will also consider, as suggested by Jedburgh Community Council, the use of disability discrimination funding to provide access to public buildings.
The 2010 annual report of the scrutiny panel reveals that it made 37 recommendations to the council’s ruling executive, of which 28, or 76 per cent, were accepted.