Pollution at “top of agenda” in Harris

There are fears that many of the famous beaches in Harris could now be suffering, including Luskentyre. (Pic: Bob Shand/Flickr)There are fears that many of the famous beaches in Harris could now be suffering, including Luskentyre. (Pic: Bob Shand/Flickr)
There are fears that many of the famous beaches in Harris could now be suffering, including Luskentyre. (Pic: Bob Shand/Flickr)
Environmental pollution is now “top of the agenda” in Harris amidst calls for stronger planning controls and other brakes on the out of control property market.

​This follows a warning from former Harris councillor, Grant Fulton, that over-development around Luskentyre and Seilibost has contributed to the sea water being rated as a health hazard due to the high e-coli levels.

Concerns specific to Harris have coincided with the leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Paul Steele, calling for a co-ordinated challenge to the use of houses as “assets not homes”.

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The chair of South Harris Community Council, Donnie Macdonald, said that pollution will be “top of the agenda” at their forthcoming meeting along with “the whole issue of water supply and development around Seilibost and Luskentyre”.

Mr Macdonald said Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s approach to planning and building warrants had to be reviewed. They will also ask the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency to carry out investigations “to ensure the public are safe for kids going onto beaches and also for cockle harvesting in Luskentyre estuary”.

As reported in last week’s Gazette, Mr Fulton said that “e-coli levels are now such that Seilibost-Luskentyre is generally given a C classification, which is damning”. A former fisheries officer in Ireland, Mr Fulton added: “I personally wouldn’t go into the waters there”.

Mr Macdonald said: “These are the issues we are seriously worried about and want to get answers as soon as possible. We can identify the increase in building Ponderosa-scale houses as a source of the problem.

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“These are buildings which are nowhere near the scale of housing units required in crofting villages and it is difficult to understand why none of them seem to have any difficulty getting planning consent”

Regarding Mr Fulton’s resignation from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Mr Macdonald said: “I can understand where Grant Fulton is coming from. He is someone who says it as it is. He talks straight. His expectation of being dealt with in the same way just wasn’t happening and I find that very sad”.

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