Blairgowrie businessman sentenced to a 100 hour Community Payback Order for polluting a Perthshire burn and for a waste offence

date17 April 2014

An employee of a company which empties septic tanks was sentenced to a 100 hour Community Payback Order for unpaid work and activities to be completed within three months at Perth Sheriff Court today (17 April 2014) for polluting a local burn with sewage and for breaching waste management legislation designed to protect the environment.

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Derek Davidson, an employee and former director of 1st Loo Ltd, was sentenced after pleading guilty following evidence led at trial to discharging a quantity of sewage into the Middleton Burn, which is a tributary of the River Tay. The incident was investigated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

On 4 May 2011 SEPA responded to reports of pollution in the Middleton Burn in Dalguise. Investigations showed the burn was full of sewage as it flowed past a number of houses. Samples were taken, and a trail through the grass was seen leading from a septic tank from one of the householders down to the burn. The home owner confirmed that the then 1st Loo Limited has been paid to empty the septic tank and remove the contents.

Water samples taken from the burn were shown to contain high levels of pollutants present in the sewage discharge which are known to cause problems for fish and invertebrates.

The Middleton burn is a tributary of the River Tay Special area of Conservation.

Although Derek Davidson and another employee of the then 1st Loo Limited initially denied causing the pollution he later admitted at a further interview that he had been responsible for the incident at Dalguise. Mr Davidson claimed that the septic tank contents were too thick to pump into the tanker and that the contents of the tanker were lost when water was taken from the burn into the tanker to make it easier to pump out.

As part of the investigation into the pollution at Dalguise, SEPA also looked into other collections of sewage made by Derek Davidson as an employee of the 1stLoo Ltd.  This included checking the correct paperwork had been used for the disposal of waste. SEPA found that Mr. Davidson has failed to use the required paperwork for the disposal of up to 7,000 gallons of sewage collected from a private sewage works at Bridge of Cally. This paperwork, commonly referred to as a Duty of Care Transfer Note, is required to ensure that the person receiving the waste is able to deal with the waste correctly.

Helen Trevallion, SEPA’s investigating officer, said:

Regarding the river pollution incident, if equipment on the tanker used to collect septic tank sewage/sludge is used correctly it is not possible to accidentally lose such a volume of sludge because there is a system on the inlet to prevent the escape of the tank contents should the pump fail. Following the incident no attempt was made by the then company 1st Loo Limited or their employees to remedy the situation or to prevent any further deterioration of the environment and neither SEPA nor the owner of the property was informed of the incident. This sort of activity simply cannot go unpunished, and SEPA hopes that the sentence imposed on Derek Davidson today demonstrates the seriousness of polluting our water environment.”

Ends

Notes to Editor

The exact charges Derek Hamilton Davidson pled guilty to were:

  • On 4 May 2011 at Middleton Dalguise, Perthshire you DEREK HAMILTON DAVIDSON  did carry on a controlled activity, namely an activity liable to cause pollution of the water environment in that you did discharge a quantity of sewage into the Middleton Burn a tributary of the River Tay without the authority of an authorisation under the aftermentioned Regulations CONTARY to the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011, Regulation 4 and 44(1)(a) and the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 Section 20(3)(a)

  • Between 29 April 2011 and 5 May 2011, both dates inclusive at  Glen Darby, Kirkmichael, Perthshire and elsewhere in Perthshire you DEREK HAMILTON DAVIDSON being a person who carries and disposes of controlled waste, namely sewage sludge, did fail to take all measures applicable to you as were reasonable in the circumstances, on the transfer of said waste to secure (i) that there was transferred such a written description of said waste as would enable other persons to avoid a contravention of Section 33 of the aftermentioned Act and to comply with the duty under Section 34(1)(b) of the aftermentioned Act as regards the escape of waste in that you did carry and dispose of said waste and fail to prevent the escape of that waste; CONTRARY to the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 34(1)(c )(i) and (ii)