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.
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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-58040852
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:
According to the Environment Agency reported on the BBC UK website last July:
[In England] there were 56 serious pollution incidents last year , 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.