New group smells change in the air

Meeting at Leven Waste Water Treatment Plant
Meeting at Leven Waste Water Treatment Plant

THE Fix Levenmouth Action Group (FLAG) says it expects to have an “immediate effect” on ridding Methil of its notorious Ming.

Formed just last month the group has quickly built up a large database of disgruntled residents and has been officially recognised by Scottish Water, owners of the Levenmouth Waste Water Treatment Plant blamed for the well known stench.

But, more importantly, members of the action group have already met with the utility company for a tour around the treatment plant and Audrey Egan, group secretary, thinks in doing so it has already identified the cause of the problem, which has plagued the community for more than 10 years.

She said: “Scottish Water took us around the whole plant and the smell was coming from a certain place and we all identified that.

“Scottish Water said it (the smell) was definitely one of the driers and it would rectify it, and I’m sure they said it would be fixed by September.”

The possibility of being Ming free can’t come quick enough for some residents, who claim the community had been greatly affected.

“A lot of people are saying it is affecting their health, which I asked about at the meeting,” Ms Egan continued.

“People have been suffering the stench for 10 years so it is going to have an effect on some people’s health over that long period of time.”

Ms Egan added she was glad the group, which was formed, after a protest against Scottish Water’s handling of the problem was held at New Bayview, had came together as she thinks the community would be left to suffer otherwise.

Since that protest the group has met twice, and plans to meet at least once a month, has appointed 12 committee members and has over 770 people signed up to a Facebook page.

Through that medium the action group has encouraged residents to report when they smell the Ming to Scottish Water, as well as notifying the group itself via email in order for it to keep its own record.

This is an essential element of FLAG’s campaign as Scottish Water currently regulates its own complaints, which FLAG feels is incorrect.

Ms Egan added: “Scottish Water shouldn’t be sending people from Scottish Water out to people’s houses when it gets a telephone call about a complaint because those people are obviously going to give Scottish Water the feedback that it wants.

“FLAG’s message to Scottish Water would be: ‘Get someone independent to regulate the complaints, the calls and everything else because you can’t regulate your own complaint system. It is unfair.’”

A spokesperson for Scottish Water said it was “good” to have met with representatives of FLAG and invited it to further stakeholder meetings.

· FLAG is continually looking for new members and for the public to contact it when it smells the Ming. To contact FLAG email flagfife@live.co.uk.

Views from the community leaders

Tricia Marwick, MSP: “The Methil Ming is the most frustrating issue I have had to deal with as an MSP. The smell has been a problem since the plant opened and despite many meetings with Scottish Water the people of Leven and Methil are still forced to put up with it.

“I congratulate FLAG on their work to date and urge Scottish Water to listen to and work with the community to solve the problem once and for all.”

The Rev Gillian Paterson, Wellesley Parish Church: “The Ming is dominating conversations and lifestyles in the Methil area, when visiting folk it is often the first thing they mention!

“The level of the Ming varies from day to day, but it is always present and has an effect on the well being of many people with many feeling they can’t have windows open or enjoy their garden due to the sickening smell, for me that’s not fair on people of all ages in our community.”

Tom Adams, Levenmouth area committee chair: “The problem of the Methil Ming has been a major cause of concern for the residents over the last 10 years. It has also had a detrimental effect on the area as a whole with the words Methil Ming being enough to put visitors off. I am pleased to hear that Scottish Water is investing an extra £100,000 in an attempt to eradicate the problem, hopefully this investment will work, but if it doesn’t we will keep up the pressure to get a permanent solution to the problem.”

Lee Murray, Flood Inns group owner: “People have had to put up with the Ming for too long. It is about time something was done to eradicate it once and for all.

“It doesn’t affect us to much as a business but I understand the community’s issues with it and we stand strongly behind them on this.”

Lindsay Roy, MP: “Local people have had to put up with the stink for far too long, but at last Scottish Water has acknowledged that there is a problem and they are investing over £100,000 in a bid to resolve it.

“I will keep up the pressure on them to ensure that residents no longer have to endure the misery of the Methil Ming.”

Moira Girvan, Methil Community Association chair: “We’ve put up with this for so long and nothing has been done. For the ones up at Innerleven Church it must be horrendous.

“Going about smelling it and taking it in must be doing something to people. I would hope something is going to get done about it.

“I think Scottish Water should go and look at other areas that have these kind of plants and see what they are doing. Personally I don’t think it should ever have been built so close to the houses.”

Alan Stuart, Stuart’s of Buckhaven owner: “Scottish Water, one of Scotland’s largest companies, with its HQ in Fife, must solve the problem at their Methil site with top priority.

“That it has dragged on for ten years is a disgrace. They should be ashamed of their lack of commitment to fixing things. Our bakery sits half a mile away, and endures the Ming regularly.”

Allen Armstrong, CLEAR: “The Methil Ming, so obvious to locals, has been a blight on the area for years. Like so many other Levenmouth issues, it was no surprise to see this concern so deliberately ignored by the agency responsible for so long. So all credit to local people for exerting pressure for action which seems to be yielding results - they’ve set an example of positive action to emulate.”

David Torrance, MSP: “Having met with constituents in the area and attended meetings I am well aware of the detrimental effect that the stench from the water works is having on the daily life of the residents. This is totally unacceptable and I will be doing all I can by working in conjunction with FLAG and others to facilitate a resolution as quickly as possible. To this end I intend to set up a meeting with Alex Neil the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment.”

Action group won’t be found flagging

THE Fix Levenmouth Action Group will continue to look out for the area even when the problem of the Methil Ming is sorted.

With both Methil and Buckhaven not having a community council and Leven Community Council struggling for committee members, non-political public representation in Levenmouth is scarce.

This is a gap FLAG hopes it can fill.

Group secretary Audrey Egan said: “The main aim of FLAG, the way we constituted it is as an organisation, is to rid Methil of the Ming.

“FLAG’s intentions are to remain together as an action group after the problem of the Methil Ming has been rectified and help out with other problems in the area.

“We are aware of there being a lack of a community council and we are hoping to get people together more and take action in the community with things that are happening in the area such as anti-social neighbours.

“Levenmouth itself should have a community group.

“A community council is a good thing because when things happen at the council it has to go through community councils.

“The community council is the Council’s committee, for want of a better phrase.”