Falkirk communities link up to fight use of sludge

(l-r) Community councillors Jacquelene McDevitt, Doreen Goldie and Maria Montinaro hand in the 1200-word petition to Falkirk Council
(l-r) Community councillors Jacquelene McDevitt, Doreen Goldie and Maria Montinaro hand in the 1200-word petition to Falkirk Council

A 1200-name petition objecting to the spreading of human waste on fields in the Braes has been collected.

The community councils of Avonbridge and Standburn, Maddiston, Shieldhill and California, Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone carried out the survey with the support of the Blackness, Bo’ness and Larbert community councils.

The groups launched a joint campaign because of concerns and complaints received from residents, mostly in the Braes area, about the storing and processing of human sludge.

Residents say the process has an “unacceptable level of impact” on communities because of its transportation, storage, processing and spreading on farmland.

When it is used in rural areas the smell can become unbearable for people in homes nearby, especially in the hotter, summer months. Campaigners are worried it may affect people’s health.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “With legislation due to be reviewed in December we, as stakeholders in this, are canvassing for support across the political and statutory bodies to end this practice. We want to follow other European countries who have banned this practice and to adopt their methods of disposal in respect of public health and the environment.

“The practice used by local authorities in Scotland fails to address the public concern, anger and frustration caused by this process.”

Following a call from Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald for a review of the practice and available enforcement powers, Scottish Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, commissioned a review into the processes which is still ongoing.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are aware of concerns expressed regarding the spreading of sewage sludge on land, both for agricultural purposes and in respect of land restoration. The Scottish Government takes these concerns seriously, and we are considering options for addressing the relevant issues.”