Aerial photo over Isle of Lewis Michael Grant

Solutions to Scotland's sewage scandal

1 minute read

We're calling for Scottish Government to put a stop to sewage polluting Scotland's seas.

Scottish Water recently published data on just 3.4% of Scotland’s monitored sewage overflows. Our experts have analysed this data and what they’ve found shows that we need urgent action to address Scotland’s sewage problem.

What we found:

  • Sewage poured into Scottish seas for over 113,000 hours in 2022
  • Sewage was released over 14,000 times in 2022

Combine that with our beach clean volunteers recording over 35,000 pieces of sewage related litter in 2022 and it's clear that something must be done.

The system is under pressure, being used above and beyond what it was initially designed for.

Scottish Water Map Data

As our maps show, this pollution is happening in close proximity to areas of conservation and bathing waters, threatening key habitats and ecosystems.

Scottish Government must tackle sewage pollution with better monitoring, reporting and progressive spill reduction targets.

Catherine Gemmell, Scotland Conservation Officer

The story so far

Scottish Water published the ‘Improving Urban Waters Route map’ in December 2021 which includes planned actions to reduce pollution from overflows.

The route map, and Scottish Government’s Marine Litter Strategy, included positive commitments to monitor 1,000 overflows discharging into ‘high priority sites’ by 2024.

Scottish Water’s Nature Calls campaign is a further step in the right direction, calling for a ban on plastic in single-use wet wipes – something we’ve long campaigned for based on our beach clean data.

What we're calling for

Now we need Scottish Government to step up and take action to solve Scotland’s sewage problem once and for all.

We need:

  • Monitoring and reporting on 100% of Scotland’s sewerage network by 2026
  • Progressive reduction targets for sewage spills
  • Filtering screens on all overflows to reduce sewage related litter entering the sea

Do you live in Scotland? Take a stand with us by sending your Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) an email calling for their support to tackle sewage pollution! You can take action here.

Contact your MSP for action on sewage

Scotland's sewage scandal