Incorporating Cramond, Barnton, Cammo & Quality Street (West)

Minutes of Meeting held on Thursday 15 January in Cramond Kirk Millennium Hall

Present: Andrew Mather (Chair), Ian Williamson (Secretary), Peter Scott, Jean Morley, Ross Wilkinson, Percy Feketey, Isla Browning, Robin White, Eaun Pearson, Grant McCulloch, David Belfall and Bert Scott

A total of 22 residents were present, including members.

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed those attending and noted apologies from Jane Neville, Marion Mitchell, David Belfall and Mark Whittet. He also noted apologies from Councillor Lindsay Paterson. Councillors Work and Shields were in attendance. .

Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the meeting of 20 November 2014 were approved.

Police report

PC Nicola Payne gave the report for December 2014. 56 incidents had been reported 18 of which were committed in the Cramond area. Of the 56 there were 2 assaults, 7 vandalisms and 16 theft by housebreaking with 5 attempted theft by housebreaking. 6 of the 16 theft by housebreaking occurred in the Cramond area with some involving the theft of jewellery worth substantial amounts of money. Enquiries had led to the arrest and charging of 2 youths following the launch by Police Scotland of operation “Pelaton”. Crime prevention advice had been distributed by Sergeant Phillipa Campbell to the CC and then cascaded out via the CC to friends on the CC global list.

Scottish Water Presentation

The Chair introduced Bill Elliot and Craig Murray of Scottish Water who had responded to the CC invitation to come and speak about service delivery and development in the area.

Mr Elliot was the Regional Communications Manager and Craig Murray the Development Manager for the area.

By way of scene setting Mr Elliot advised that the main focus of the presentation would be on Scottish Water’s role and responsibilities in supporting housing developments in Scotland. First and foremost their role was to enable housing developments which were being progressed via the national policies and local planning processes. He had checked with the SW Call Centre and had been told that no complaints had been made that related to the Cramond Pumping Station and the services the facility supported. Yes a few complaints had been made about flooding but these did not relate to sewage disposal but were as a consequence of rain water. Some £29m had been invested by SW in improving the plant at Seafield and this had addressed the majority of the complaints about odour. He acknowledged that there would be occasions where odour would be a problem including around the Cramond pumping station but such occasions should be the exception and were related to sudden high precipitation of rain.

SW had invested significantly in water production and preservation (including recently at Glencorse and Marchbank near Balerno) and there were no concerns about the ability to meet the water supply demands expected from new developments. Managing the pressures on the waste water system was far more challenging and while the role of SW was to enable developments that did not mean that new developments could simply tap into the sewage system without regard to the impact on the system. Any sizeable development would have to undergo a full drainage and water impact assessment with the prospect of having to contribute towards the costs of system upgrade if the development was going to cause detriment to the waste sewage system.

Craig Murray as Development Manager for the Region went on to explain in greater detail the whole process from planning application and a pre-development enquiry through drainage and water impact assessment to construction and sign-off Computerised modelling systems were used to analyse the impact of changes to flows and capacity across the system. SW worked very closely with developers during the construction phase to assure the works addressed all possible public health concerns and requirements. Installation of all pipes feeding into the waste disposal system would be inspected very carefully and before pipes were covered over. Changes being made to post construction liabilities were going to extend the period for which the requirement to address any post completion liabilities remained with the developers – the period to be extended from 1 year to 2.

Mr Elliot invited questions from the floor. John Dods began by expressing his concern about a surface water drain at Brighouse that was causing episodes of foul water ingress. He had phoned on 3 occasions. Mr E agreed to look into the issue (it was noted that a pipe had been installed at Brighouse at the time of the development).

He said there should be no cross-contamination.

In response to Mr Dods’ second question Mr E acknowledged that there had been issues with the call centre being unable to locate incidents where there was not a post-code (such as on Cramond beach). They had recently added Google maps to the compendium of info sources in use. Mr Dods also referred to the more recent increased incidence of stormwater outflows along the River Almond where raw sewage was being discharged into the river. Mr E accepted that this was the case but added that in all cases such discharge should be “screened sewage” and that as such they were licensed by SEPA to use rivers where there was no other alternative (other than seeing the sewage flow back towards houses). In the unlikely and exceptional instance of any unscreened sewage escaping onto highways then urgent contact with SW would result in a a clear-up squad being dispatched urgently to the area. Similarily contact should be made where excessive odour was the issue. There were measures which SW could take to mitigate the escape of odour from the pumping station.

The Commodore of the Cramond Yacht Club advised that in dry weather there were no CSOs operating and that there were serious concerns about the water quality in the River Almond. He was concerned to know to what frequency the water quality in the river was being tested and he recalled a SEPA report that set out an expectation about the need for improvement measures within a certain timeframe (but he could not recall whether that was 2017 or 2027). Mr E said he could not answer the question about the frequency to which SEPA tested the water quality. He did undertake to speak to his environmental colleague about the SEPA River Almond Basin Water Plan to clarify what expectations the report provided – and to what timetable.

There followed some further discussion about the risk associated with SW being “responsive” to developments coming before them which individually may not cause detriment but which looked at together with other emerging developments may collectively cause detriment. Mr E said that SW could look at such developments in one package. The fact that many parts of the sewage system were also carrying surface water was placing an increasingly untenable burden on the capacity of the system. Legislation was being brought forward to require local authorities to work with SW to better manage surface water. But the financial pressures on public services meant that this was not going to be resolved in the near future. Also mentioned was the possibility of new legislation which was understood to be expecting developers to work with the water and sewage service providers to reduce the impact on the system (going beyond the current “no detriment” test).

The key messages which came out of the presentation (and the questions) were:

1. SW role is to enable development whilst ensuring at the same time that where a development can be demonstrated to be liable to cause detriment to the water supply or sewage system then the developer would be expected to shoulder the cost of improving the system.

2. It was acknowledged that, often as a result of the added pressure of managing surface water, that drains would operate at or above capacity and that in these circumstances SW was approved to use stormwater outflows and other measures to allow outflow into rivers. In such cases the outflow should be screened sewage.

3. SW estimated that flood water impacted on the system to acuse overflow some 4 to 5 times a year in the Cramond locality.

4. Mr E undertook to:
investigate and report back on the surface water drain from the Brighouse development where there were concerns about reported cross-contamination; No evidence of cross connections in this system which has been adopted by Scottish Water. The occasions where blockages have been found on the foul system were due to customers flushing the wrong items such as nappies/wipes etc.  This has caused sewage to come out the manholes and flow into the surface water gullies which come out at the surface water outfall.

check with environmental colleagues and report back on RABWP and what programme of improvements it establishes; I have been informed that studies are still being carried out,  as we need to understand the ecological and engineering impacts of this and working alongside SEPA, we hope to achieve a result over the next few years that may be implemented in our next investment period in 2021.

provide the CC with the emergency call contact number (later advised as 0800 0778778 or e-mail ) ; and
ensure that if complaints are made about odour from the Cramond pumping station that these are investigated and that measures that can be taken are fully considered. I have altered our Team Leader for this site about this. However customers who experience and odour issues are asked to call us immediately and we will send out an operative to fully investigate in real time.

Mr Elliot’s subsequent report back on the issue are incorporated into the record above in blue type face 9.5 at the end of each issue.

The Chair thanked Mr Elliot and Mr Murray for giving up their evening to provide such an informative talk. In the margins of the meeting Mr Dods gave Mr Elliot some of the photographs he had taken of man hole covers being “blown” by escaping sewage.

Planning Report

Peter Scott provided a brief update on recent developments. The applicants behind the Cammo proposals have submitted an appeal to the Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals on the grounds of non-determination of the original application within the statutory timeframe. The Planning Minister has directed that he will make the final decision on whether or not to allow the development to proceed, following consideration of the DPEA Reporter’s report.

The developers of the Maybury/West Craigs site will be meeting with representatives of the CC and with the other neighbouring CCs at the beginning of February to further discuss their plans for the site which is coterminous with the Cammo proposed development. The CC believes that the extent of engagement offered so far falls short of what may have been expected given the size of what may be in prospect. There are a variety of grounds on which the CC shall be objecting to this development at the appropriate time. On the Braehead Farm proposed development Peter advised that planning approval had been granted.

The CC planned to contact the developers to discuss the nature of their proposals for the King James statue currently situated on the site. The consultation draft arising out of the work of the Interpretation Strategy Group would be available by end-March on the CC website and a summary would be presented at a future CC meeting. Finally the results of the visitors survey conducted last year around the promenade and the River Almond walkway would be available in February.

Secretary’s Report

The Secretary ran through the written report which had been provided for those attending the meeting and which was uploaded on the CC website following the meeting. He touched on covering the scope for restricting vehicular access to Cramond promenade, the threat to the public toilets in Cramond from budgetary pressures, the field work beginning in Cramond early in the New Year involving students from the Edinburgh University’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the considerations around a possible additional traffic lane at the Barnton junction and the streetscape improvements to be made around the Barnton shops. He also confirmed that the CC would be going back again to Lothian Buses in its efforts to try to secure some improvement to bus services to the area.

Councillors reports

Councillor Norman Work confirmed that he along with Councillors Patterson and Sheilds would be meeting with the Convenor and Vice Convenor of the Council on Monday 19 January to discuss the proposals for the replacement to the Salvessen Steps.

Date of Next Meeting

The Chair confirmed that the next meeting of the CC would take place on Thursday 19 February 2015 where there would be a presentation from a prospective developer of another nursing home in Cramond.

Ian Williamson