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Highland councillors to visit Boat of Garten to get to root of smelly problem

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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The Scottish Water plant on the banks of the River Spey in Boat of Garten.
The Scottish Water plant on the banks of the River Spey in Boat of Garten.

Highland councillors have agreed to make a site visit to the Scottish Water waste treatment plant in Boat of Garten to try and get to the root of a smelly problem.

The public utility giant has applied for planning permission for a range of measures designed to reduce odour coming from the plant.

However, rhe planning application attracted a clutch of objections including one from Boat of Garten Community Council.

Local member Bill Lobban urged members of the council's south planning committee not to make a decision based on a paper plan.

Instead, he proposed a site visit when the plant is operational.

Members of the committee unanimously agreed to defer the planning application at their meeting at Inverness headquarters earlier today.

Scottish Water operates the water treatment works on the west bank of the River Spey on the approach to Boat of Garten and not far from the village's famous James Braid golf course.

Local residents have long complained about the stench in the area during sludge removal and one neighbour even took legal action against Scottish Water.

In response, the firm had proposed changes to its odour management plan at the site.

This involves the installation of a small dosing kiosk and changes to the sludge draw-off point.

Additional changes include a small weathervane, timber screening and anti-climb measures to improve safety.

However, nine neighbours objected to the plan that has come forward.

They raised concerns about issues including odour, noise pollution, visual impact, chemical storage and the impact on wildlife.

Boat of Garten Community Council drew attention to the number of local complaints.

They also feel the plant creates a negative impression on the main route into the village.

Badenoch and Strathspey councillors are also sceptical about whether the new measures will work.

Councillor Lobban called the plant 'a blot on the landscape' and said it should never have been situated there in the first place.

He blasted Scottish Water for not taking the opportunity to mitigate the problems with the original design.

That aside, he accepted that the council can not 'undo the sins of the past'.

Instead, he asked members not to make any decision until they had made a site visit.

Councillor Ken Gowans said: “I think we need to see this in context and try to get a sense of it.

“And I mean ‘sense’ quite literally since we’re talking about odours here.”

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