Harris is being polluted by over development​

The beaches of West Harris may be among the most recognisable, even in the world, but they could now be threatened by over development.The beaches of West Harris may be among the most recognisable, even in the world, but they could now be threatened by over development.
The beaches of West Harris may be among the most recognisable, even in the world, but they could now be threatened by over development.
A former Harris councillor has warned that the island’s pristine reputation is at risk from “out of control” planning and associated health hazards.

Grant Fulton, who resigned last week citing frustrations with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar management issues, said he “could not understand” how consents continue to be given for large-scale buildings in the Seilibost-Luskentyre area of the island.

Mr Fulton told the Gazette: “What we are seeing now in Seilibost-Luskentyre is increased ecoli levels, I would say, due to human ecoli being discharged from ineffective or no septic tanks. The sea around the area is awash with human excrement.

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“It’s quite clear, to me anyway, that’s there a correlation between the holiday houses being built, the lack of stringency in planning, and houses being built as ‘family homes’ then being placed on the high end rental market”.

Mr Fulton who at one time worked for the Irish Government as a fisheries officer responsible for shellfish management in the south west of Ireland, has been alarmed by returns from west Harris waters which determine whether shellfish is fit for human consumption.

He said: “Seilibost-Luskentyre is a traditional cockle harvesting area using hand rakes. Ecoli levels are such that it is now generally given a C classification, which is damning. The generic test for ecoli does do not scientifically define whether the ecoli is of human or of animal origin. This requires a substantially more rigorous and expensive test”.

Mr Fulton said that this testing had been carried out routinely in Ireland and “when we carried out the analysis we always found it to be human ecoli”.

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He believed the same to be true in Seilibost-Luskentyre and added: “I personally wouldn’t go into the water there”. The C classification for water quality is “the worst you can get”.

Mr Fulton said he was concerned to see “huge structures” still being given planning consent in the area without sufficient regard for this issue and warned that an urgent policy review is necessary if the reputation of “one of the most iconic beaches in the UK” is to be maintained.