CONCERNS that sewage is being discharged into Aberlady Bay, causing pollution, have been raised at a meeting.

The meeting, which took place late last month, was organised and chaired by East Lothian MSP Paul McLennan, with South Scotland MSP Craig Hoy, Scottish Water and members of Gullane Area Community Council attending.

The concerns have been raised by community councillors, who fear that sewage is being discharged at excessive levels into the bay from the combined sewage overflow system, an existing sewage pipe at the bay, and causing pollution, with fears that this has been taking place since 2018.

Malcolm Duck, community council chair, said: “We believe that there are discharges into Aberlady Bay of raw sewage which could harm wildlife.

“At the meeting, Scottish Water assured us they are looking into it and are redoing some of the ways they calculate things.

“We are unsure whether these discharges are licensed or not, but we don’t think any discharges are reasonable.”

Aberlady Bay was the first nature reserve in Scotland and is home to a variety of wildlife.

Mr Duck said: “We want to make sure there are no dangerous discharges going into the bay and to ensure it is a safe place for tourists, locals and the wildlife that visit.

“We need to understand whether these dumps are happening and, so far, the data is unclear.”

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was also due to have a presence at the meeting but no one from the organisation attended on the day.

Mr McLennan, who held the meeting following discussions with members of the community council about their concerns, said: “We met Scottish Water and discussed figures that the community had obtained from freedom of information in regard to sewage spills.

“Scottish Water have advised that they have upgraded monitoring equipment at the treatment plant. We also discussed future housing projections.

“The group, Scottish Water and myself agreed to meet again in November to discuss further.”

Mr Hoy said he would be continuing to push for answers on how the issue could be resolved.

He said: “Coastal communities are concerned that there have been sightings of untreated sewage on some of our most important beaches, including Aberlady Bay, which is a designated local nature reserve and which is used by many local people.

“I remain concerned that we do not have enough data and evidence to have assurance that there is no risk to the public nor the bay’s special designated status as a result of sewage being pumped into the sea, particularly on dry days.

“I will continue to press Scottish Water and SEPA to explain how they intend to tackle the pressures on the sewage system, especially since there are hundreds of new homes planned for Gullane and Aberlady.

“It’s vital we get the right infrastructure in place to protect the public and to ensure our special coastal areas are not polluted.”

In response to the issue, a spokesperson for Scottish Water said: “We had a constructive meeting with representatives from Aberlady community, who we have been liaising with regularly about the Scottish Water network and assets that serve their community.

“We discussed the local assets, including Aberlady Bay pumping station and Gullane Waste Water Treatment Works, which we believe to be performing well.

“In 2018, we received reports of sewage-related debris (SRD) being visible from one of our Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). We carried out a thorough investigation of the local network and identified a property which had their drainage wrongly connected. We immediately carried out a repair to rectify this. No further issues have been identified.

“We are committed to serving the community and helping protect the environment. We have recently installed monitoring equipment to provide additional performance information and we will be sharing this with the community groups.”

A spokesperson for SEPA added: “SEPA is aware of reports of intermittent discharges affecting Aberlady Bay but has not received any recent pollution reports.

“We continue to engage extensively with the local community, community council and Scottish Water and will consider any new evidence that becomes available.

“We would encourage anyone with concerns about a potential pollution incident to contact our 24-hour pollution reporting line as soon as possible. This can be done through our online form at or via 0800 80 70 60.”