Scotland’s Corporate Ferret way behind UK People’s Canary as it fakes sewage story

Regular readers will know that the Ferret ‘Fact Checker’ is hopelessly compromised by its association with the Herald and Scottish Labour. The contrast with the Canary, which I pay for monthly, could not be sharper.

See this if you need a wee, well big, résumé (face-covering recommended):

Today, above, you see the accusations levelled at Scottish Water and the First Minister, based on an unspecified number of email complaints. The accusations are then backed up by comments from Monica Lennon (Labour) and Liam McArthur (LD).

I don’t doubt there have been too many leaks for some butt he ‘way behind England’ suggestion is laughable and the wider context, not presented.

In October, I wrote:

In this typically Anglocentric BBC report today, England is only mentioned once so you might be excused for thinking that the 400 000 discharges of raw sewage into rivers, due to heavy rain, included Scotland.

It doesn’t.

On the 3rd of August 2021, BBC Scotland, informed us:

The number of recorded sewage spills in Scotland’s rivers and seas has increased by 40% over the last five years, new figures show. The figures the utility firm does have show that last year there were a total of 12,725 “spill events” – up 40% on 2016.

Note that grudging ‘the figures the utility firm does have?’ Anyone think the privatised English companies will be gathering more accurate data?

So, all things being equal, with ten times the population, you might expect England to have around 130 000 discharges but it had 400 000, more than 3 times as many.

Even more dramatic are the length of the spills in terms of hours. In Scotland in 2020, the spills went on for just over 2 500 hours while in England, they went on for 3 million hours, more than 1 000 times as long, pro rata. The English data do not include volume.

Not good in Scotland, I know, but as always, perspective in reporting?

In the Guardian in March 2021:

Water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers and coastal waters in England more than 400,000 times last year, Environment Agency (EA) data has revealed. Untreated human effluent poured into rivers and seas for a total of 3.1m hours via storm overflow pipes that are supposed to be used only in extreme weather to relieve pressure in the sewage system.

From January 2020 in response to a channel 4 special:

The disaster of water privatisation in England:

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated
2015 data

According to the Environment Agency reported on the BBC UK website last July:

[In England] there were 56 serious pollution incidents last year [2018], rising from 52 in 2017, the agency’s annual report said. Only one of the nine major water companies in England is performing at the expected level, with most likely to miss 2020 targets, the agency added. The report follows the agency’s announcement that Southern Water is facing prosecution after it was hit with a record £126m penalty package over “shocking” failures in its sewage treatment sites.

Meanwhile in Scotland, according to SEPA:

In 2017, for the first time in a number of years, Scottish Water was not responsible for any category 1, serious pollution incidents.

A report in Open Democracy attributes the situation in England to privatisation:

The dire state of our rivers is just one of the many, many failures of water and sewerage privatisation. It is just one example of what happens when we hand over not just time-limited contracts for delivering water and sewerage services, but the actual assets themselves – the pipes, the infrastructure – to private companies to milk for profit.

The resulting customer satisfaction:

In a ComRes survey of 199 Scots, published last July, we see:

  • Thinking generally about the company that provides your water and sewerage services, do you or do you not trust your water company? UK 86% Scotland 94%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Provide a reliable service? UK 90% Scotland 96%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Ensure good quality of water? UK 90% Scotland 95%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Fix water pipe leaks in public areas (e.g. in roads, not in the home)? UK 81% Scotland 93%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Take action to protect and improve the environment? UK 78% Scotland 87%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Take away wastewater and sewage and deal with it responsibly? UK 88% Scotland 93%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Provide good value for money to customers? UK 72% Scotland 88%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Pay an appropriate amount of tax? UK 78% Scotland 87%
  • Do you or do you not trust your water company to… Invest sufficient money on the water network? UK 73% Scotland 86%.

Let me think, who deserves the credit for preventing privatisation?

Finally, do not trust the Ferret’s weasel-words.

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6 thoughts on “Scotland’s Corporate Ferret way behind UK People’s Canary as it fakes sewage story

  1. The Ferret appears to be more like a Rat.
    And a Labour party Rat at that.

    Investigative journalism my arse!
    Same old news management and manipulating of data.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What I find more instructive is publicity over this uniquely “Scottish problem” arising just when the public are more vocally objecting over England’s river discharges.
      George Monbiots’s exposure of the Wye fiasco has nothing to do with CSOs, those who then were spurred into reporting their own river problems, again nothing to do with CSOs, these are Sewage Treatment Plant etc failures which the toothless EPA in England cannot resolve.

      What the Ferret and those who engaged them are seeking to do is shield England’s privatised water system in trouble, England’s rivers in trouble, and England’s politicians taking flak from the public over it.
      Hence the Scottish squirrel/ferret over CSOs, a political diversion.


  2. Whereas we have every right to be concerned over CSO activations, neither Monica Lennon nor Liam McArthur are weather gods, they and their support organisations are nothing more than sh1t stirrers of the highest order.

    Typical STWs were built for full treatment of flows from 3 times the population (DWF), they would screen and discharge a further 3DWF.
    To repeat the boring point, if it rains and overloads the sewer, a CSO may activate, that is it’s purpose, the equivalent of the fuse or breaker in the house.

    The changed rainfall patterns and increasing intensities of today overload capacity of the combined sewers built for the Victorian era, bluntly blowing the fuse more frequently.
    What is little recognised however is the efforts of SEPA and the various iterations of water authorities over the decades to reduce pollution effects at CSOs and on the sewer networks.
    Changing over discrete sections of combined sewer to separate foul and surface water sewers is a hideously expensive, complex and disruptive process, it will take many decades and billions annually to reverse our Victorian heritage.

    There likely will always be a CSO spouting weak sifted shite, long after Monica Lennon has ceased hers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Scottish” Labour and the “Scottish” Dumbs were in government in Scotland.
    Were there overflows then, and what did they do to alleviate it?

    What, nothing, you say? Is that why they are so reduced in size now?

    I await the day when Kevin McKenna (MI5) is the last Labour(sh)ite man in Scotland—awaiting his Friday fish supper in the last editions of the Herod or Hootsmon, and Scotland moves on the self-governance leaving his kind far behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Do developers when building new ‘luxury apartments’ of which there are quite a few in Edinburgh, especially along the local scenic rivers (!) have to pay a few £millions towards upgrading infrastructure for example sewage systems? I read some time ago that is having an effect on sewage and water systems in fact. When empty land is developed for new blocks of luxury flats, it also affects the water table and, as so many have been built in Edinburgh as well as some very large houses where they have built small houses (usually for holiday lets) at the end of their massive gardens, that is also affecting the water table. When people pave over their gardens, however large or small, and that is an identified problem in Edinburgh, no doubt because of parking costs and such issues, it all adds to the problem hence more flooding, no doubt impacting the sewage systems as well.

    Surely anyway, the difference is that England’s private water companies are er, deliberately dumping raw sewage into their rivers and sea, whereas if that happens in Scotland it’s due to other factors and certanly not deliberate corporate vandalism and destruction of flora and fauna, on a massive scale.

    Scottish water is as we know, no privatised, unlike England’s water. Who in their right mind would sell their country’s water to an overseas profiteering company who don’t give as**t for the quality of the water of for the natural environment, oh yeah, the Labour party would do that as they did with the non domestic part of Scottish water and planned to do same with the domestic part had they not been booted our of Holyrood!

    This is interesting…


  5. I suppose the Herald has to try anything, and by using “The Ferret” to give them what they want for a story, it attempts to give some air of respectability to their SNP Bad / Crisis stories.

    Well it might do, if it was a newspaper that produced “Respected Quality Journalism”, but it doesn’t, and has not for many years, hence it’s readers continue to give up on it.

    Good attempt though 2/10. Must try harder to deceive or indeed try real facts.


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