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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 Big Sands 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 2004.  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 Big Sands beaches, we will shortly be re-applying for an amendment to our discharge licence in which will 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 UV treatment, we now anticipate that construction will not be able to begin earlier than autumn 2017
  • 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 on-going operation during the current bathing season

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 while the community’s applications for bathing water status were considered.


We will hold a further information event to update the community on revised proposals before the start of construction works.  Updated information will also appear on this page.


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Gairloch Information event posters

810 KB PDF
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Posters that were displayed at the Gairloch Information event

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CAR Licence

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CAR Licence for Gairloch Waste Water Treatment Works
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Marine Scotland Licence Application

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Application to Marine Scotland for a Marine Licence construction consent for the outfall extension on the sea bed