A draining operation – Scottish Coal Company

A licence has been granted for a <a href=”http://www.scottishresources.com/” title=”http://www.scottishresources.com/” target=”_blank”>Scottish Coal Company Ltd (SCCL) project to drain a Fife loch as the start of a project that will reinstate it to a higher standard.
Go-ahead was given following Scottish Ministers’ decision not to call the application in for consideration.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency was first approached by SCCL in 2009. As is common in large, complex cases SEPA took part in lengthy pre-application discussions to ensure the applicant understood the application process and what information the agency would need to take it under consideration. The application for draining Loch Fitty and associated restoration activities was submitted in 2011.
The loch is currently assessed as at over-all ‘poor ecological status’, due largely to excess levels of phosphorus, and has water quality classed as ‘poor’, high levels of phytoplankton which can cause algal blooms, a fish population that is in a poor condition, and elevated levels of nutrients and metals in sediment.
SCCL’s proposal will temporarily remove the loch, causing it to deteriorate to ‘bad’ ecological status while the work is ongoing. It will be re-instated once work is completed and, after restoration, is predicted to achieve ‘good’.
Colin Anderson, SEPA’s area manager, said: “SEPA is Scotland’s environment watchdog and we have a responsibility under the Water Framework Directive to ensure that where lochs are in poor condition, like Loch Fitty, they are improved as soon as possible. When all the positive and negative aspects of the proposal are taken into account, SEPA is of the opinion that, on balance, this proposal will result in a better water environment longer term and that the proposal is therefore consentable.
“SEPA carefully considered every aspect of the proposal when determining SCCL’s application for a licence and specialist advice was sought from officers throughout. With a proposal of this nature there will of course be some negative aspects, such as the concerns expressed by local residents in relation to the temporary loss of a local amenity. However, the proposal offers the opportunity for a loch that is currently at ‘poor ecological status’ to achieve ‘good’ status about 10 years earlier than other options available to us would allow.”