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Gairloch Waste Water Treatment Works Improvements

Scottish Water is planning an investment in its Gairloch Waste Water Treatment Works, which serves around 1,000 customers in Wester Ross.

Project Overview

The investment will improve the reliability and sustainability of the facility while continuing to protect the environment.

A new treatment works will use proven technology to achieve environmental discharge quality requirements, with a lower carbon footprint. There will be reduced vehicle movements to and from the site, reduced noise and less visual impact as a result of landscaping and the removal of some existing structures.

Following independent review, there will be a 25-metre extension to the existing outfall in Loch Gairloch which will take the pipe about 80 metres out from the shore. 

In 2016, Scottish Water put our original proposals on hold while the community’s applications for the Gairloch and Sand beaches to be designated as bathing waters were considered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).  The Scottish Government confirmed its decision to grant bathing water status in December 2016.


Key information

  • The current Gairloch WWTW was completed in 2002.  The existing treatment process used at the works has proven unreliable to operate and maintain.  The majority of membranes within the works are up to eight years old and are reaching the end of their lifespan

  • Scottish Water will work with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), its environmental regulator, to ensure the discharge of treated waste water from the facility meets SEPA’s environmental standards. Following the Scottish Government’s decision to grant bathing water status to the Gairloch and Sand beaches, we have re-applied for an amendment to our discharge licence to demonstrate how the new bathing waters environmental standard will be met

  • As a result of the need to update the design to include filtration and ultra-violet treatment, we now anticipate that construction will not be able to begin earlier than winter 2017/18

  • In view of this delay to the delivery of a replacement works, we carried out maintenance work at our existing works in spring 2017 to minimise the risks associated with its operation during the 2017 bathing season

Licensing process


Scottish Water has now re-applied to SEPA for an amendment to our discharge licence at Gairloch, reflecting the decision to designate bathing waters at Gairloch and Sand beaches.

The license application was advertised in the Ross-shire Journal on Friday 25th August 2017 and full details can be found on SEPA’s website

Representations can be made until Tuesday 26th September via email to or by post to Registry Department, SEPA, Dingwall Office, Graesser House, Fodderty Way, Dingwall, IV15 9XB, quoting reference number CAR/L/1002928. 


Listening to our customers

Listening to our customers is important to us and in summer 2016 we held three information events and liaised with the community council about the work that was then proposed. Our proposals were then put on hold in response to the community's request while the applications which had been submitted for bathing water status were considered.


A further information event took place at Gairloch Community Hall on Monday 11th September 2017 from 3pm until 7pm, followed by a meeting with Gairloch Community Council.  Thank you to everyone who attended these sessions to find out more and discuss our proposals with our team.  

The presentation materials are available to download below with further details of our updated proposals.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions that our team can help with.

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Gairloch information event posters - September 2017

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All the information posters from the September 2017 event.
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CAR licence advert

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Gairloch Information event posters

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Posters that were displayed at the Gairloch Information event