Esk River Improvement Group meets for first time

Monday August 10th 2020

River Esk Pollution

Newbattle resident and campaigner for a cleaner River Esk, Joy Godfrey, captured this photo of the pollution in the River Esk this month.

The first meeting of the Esk River Improvement Group took place on the 6th of August. The meeting was hosted by local MSP, Colin Beattie, and was attended by key stakeholders such as SEPA, Scottish Water, the Coal Authority, East Lothian Council, Community Councils, amongst other local, interested bodies.

This group has been set up following on-going issues with the river’s cleanliness, as a result of factors such as mine water discharge, sewage, and discharge from Combined Sewage Overflows.

Colin Beattie MSP commented:

“The issues with the River Esk have been ongoing for a long time and I know that my constituents are frustrated that no permanent solutions have been found. I wanted to establish a group where we look at the overall health of the River Esk and bring together those who are already working to make improvements to the quality of the water. It is much easier to see a result when we are all working collectively to resolve an issue, and that is the exact purpose of this forum.

“As well as bodies such as SEPA, Scottish Water and the Coal Authority, it was also important to me that members of the community are involved, and I am pleased that we have many representatives from our community councils working with the group, and also some local establishments such as Newbattle Abbey College and Musselburgh Racecourse. It is heartening that so many people are willing to commit to volunteering their time to make active change on this matter.

“I was pleased to discuss what progress is being made on these matters already, as well as thinking forward to establish what we need to do to stop these issues arising again in the future. All constituents also have a part to play in this, by ensuring they understand what not to flush down the toilet and by helping to educate others. Lessening the amount of sewage debris, which is often full of flushed wipes and sanitary towels, is an essential part in maintaining the cleanliness of the River.

“I am very pleased that the Coal Authority are putting in place a system to clean the mining discharge from Junkie’s Adit, and also that Scottish Water, supported by SEPA, are actively working to undertake clean ups on the Esk and improve their existing systems to prevent sewage spills going forward.

“I would like to remind my constituents that this group is not a substitute for reporting issues, and that if constituents see pollution in the river then they should report this urgently to SEPA via their Pollution Reporting tool at or get in touch with Scottish Water directly, either through their website or by calling 0800 0778 778.

“Constituents have a vital role to play by reporting problems when they see them, which allows them to be investigated more quickly and this will allow Scottish Water to undertake an urgent clean up.’

“Anyone who would like to know more about the group is welcome to contact me at and I will gladly add you to ERIG’s mailing list.”

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