The Water Tower

The Water Tower
The Water Tower at Dusk

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Thoughts on the Water Testing

This is the source data for the results in the previous post. It states "The test results are not indicative of drainage water contamination" and "The sample results are not indicative of ground water or rain water due to the presence of Trihalomethanes".
I conclude that means it is Mains water. 

This was dated 2nd November 2016.

By mid 2017 I recollect much confusion with the investigation of the water. I did find the title deeds for the cemetery and there were signs of a land drain, or a culvert, on that deed plan. That prompted some digging and the cut away that is evident on the slope now. Water was found but no culvert or drain.

I began to lose the will by mid 2017 when no real plan or direction for finding and managing the water source was apparent, and the spurious smelly sample that was thought to indicate drainage water diverted attention. (No sampling plan, no protocol, no agreement, just a sample taken by a council officer and someone from SW from the outlet of the blue lay flat pipe that dangles into the ground. Hmmmm) . 2 days after the smelly sample was reported I took a syringe and needle and withdrew a crystal clear sample of water from the mid section of the lay flat pipe. 

The water runs on the hill side intermittently, where the second land slip took place, quite a distance from our home. It doesn't affect us, but I did try my best to help find the source. I felt for the council officer left in charge of this project, as he said, he is a horticulturist.

Now that the news has once more appeared that the steps may open, it reminds me of where I was in mid 2017 with this issue. Walk away from it and let it sort itself out was my thought at the time. 

I was pleased though when the community council suggested a Participation project and thought to myself that when everyone is as up to speed as I am with this water testing, then perhaps we can have some useful discussion. This has still to happen but the first meeting is planned for March. 

I don't think local people are up to speed yet, including the people who live in and around Ironmills. They hope that the steps may re open soon. Money has gone into bank stabilisation but there's no sign of works to fix new steps. Trouble is people don't have all the information, and nor do I. I was keen for an information board and I did at one time put up some information of my own onto a fence, for folks to read if they were interested. 

Let me summarise and point out a couple of bits of info that I gleaned from the test results in mid 2017 that perhaps will help folks realise why I will continue to press for an alternative access route and new bridge over the river. 

1. The source water is Mains water but no local water leaks were found. Sound tests were done twice by Scottish Water and no household has found any water leaks. I don't think there are any leaks at the tennis courts either. None of us has water pressure problems and the Mains supply pipes in Cemetery Road were very recently upgraded.

2. The testing in 2016 was signed by Robert C Beattie of the Scientific Bereavement and Registration Services at 4 Marine Esplanade, Edinburgh. Is that a water test lab? It must be I guess. I just don't know why it comes under bereavement services. 

3. The testing included a test for surfactants and they found 118 ppb (micro g per litre) of Lauryl Sulphate (LS). I remember looking into to this at the time. LS is found in shampoo and toothpaste, as well as industrial cleaning materials. It doesn't really fit with the source being Mains water. How can there be surfactant in Mains water? Why did they test for surfactant?

4. The water on the bank must be picking up Lauryl Sulphate from somewhere. Maybe a leak from the septic tank in the vicinity of the water? But the septic tank was 100% checked out for integrity so it can't be that. Also there would be tomatoes and nettles growing if the septic tank leaked (tomato seeds don't digest in the gut and the nitrogen causes nettles to flourish). The things you learn.

5. Where could LS come from? Well it is also used in embalming fluid. 

I have no idea if the graves that sit behind this water leak are providing a contamination to the water on the bank. I don't know how long it takes a cadaver to break down. It's not a nice thought. It's not something to research on the internet I think.

Bottom line though. The test results came from Scientific Bereavement and Registration Services and if the graves are a concern for contamination, what else might be in that water other than lauryl sulphate- that hasn't been tested for?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Water on Ironmills Slope

Midlothian Council and The Advertiser have recently reported on the continued closure of Ironmills Steps.

It's not a great bit of news really, it is basically inconclusive as to whether or not works might start soon to re instate the access with new steps on the land slipped slope.
It's a risk. 

Why is that?

Because despite expensive repair works there's still water running on the slope.

Why is that?

Because the water source can't be found.

Why is that?

Because the councils' investigation was cut short last year.

Why is that?

Because Scottish Water were initially helping out but a sample indicating the water might be drainage water led them to walk away from the problem.

Why is that?

Because SW would have been charged to recompense the council for the land slip costs had it been proven that the water was Mains water. The sight of a cruddy smelly sample led everyone to believe the source was a drain. Thing is - I can't replicate that sample and neither can the council....

So that's it. 5 Why's to get to root cause for the works to the steps not being done this year. Sad, isn't it.

The initial test results of the water on the bank did indicate it was Mains water. Due to the presence of Tri Halomethanes, a reaction between chlorine and organic matter indicating that the source water was chlorinated. Chlorine on its' own being unstable and breaks down, therefore can't be used as an indicator.

I have the data here.

Great shame that the testing stopped after this. Article in the Advertiser states "despite exhaustive tests it is still not clear.....". In my old laboratory this would never have been described as exhaustive tests. 

Trouble is it is all now too late to do anything with Scottish Water. Up side is that all the supply pipes in Cemetery Road were upgraded around 3 years ago, and all testing for any leakages has drawn a blank. So unless there is some other supply pipe that none of us know about, it's pretty difficult to find the source of this water.
It's interesting (well it is to me) to know why the supply pipes were upgraded 3 years ago. Shortly after the local tennis club installed a sprinkler system there was a reduction in water pressure. SW put a monitor on our supply and found it was dangerously low at times, basically in time with the sprinkler tank filling up. This created the need to upgrade the pipes to all in Cemetery Road. That was interesting for about 6 months whilst SW tried to claim it was a private supply. Imagine the costs (to all - including the tennis club). Fortunately we were able to prove SW had serviced the supplies here with hard evidence, and they changed their mind about it being a private supply. 

It's also interesting to know that approval of the planning application for the sprinkler system was completed before SW replied to their consultation. There should have been an impact assessment before approval according to their post decision correspondence. But that would have put the target date for planning approval out of compliance. So the planning officer approved w/o the SW consultation. Lucky tennis club.

Back to the steps. What would you do if you were the council.Take the risk whilst the water runs? 

I wouldn't. Hence it is my best advice that another route and new bridge is the only answer. That would be great if it is possible. We will be left with all the problems on the bank adjacent to us, but perhaps Mother Nature will sort it out. I really can't see any alternative given the amount of money that has already poured into stabilising the bank and the continued need for funds to make sure the land doesn't slip any farther. 

My e mail correspondence from 2017 re the water testing for background reading. It was particularly amusing to note that the councils' correspondence on this issue was titled Dalkeith Water Tower.
Why don't you take a shot at the 5 why's for this - Why did MC title the correspondence Dalkeith Water Tower?

Good, isn't it. You don't really need to do it 5 times for this one :-)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Diary of Planning Events Part 3

This post is a follow on from 2 previous posts concerning planning matters at Cemetery Road from the adjacent Dalkeith Lawn Tennis Club

In 2014 there was an application by the club to retrospectively apply for pp for 2 layers of aqua coloured netting to their fence. This was a matter I had raised as a planning enquiry to which the council responded with a planning contravention notice.

In 2015 we received a planning contravention notice for a wood store that we constructed w/o pp in our woodland. No one can see our woodstore but we had to apply for retrospective permission none the less. 

Now in 2017/2018 the tennis club are applying again for retrospective pp for a third layer of netting to that approved in 2014. 

It may seem trivial to some, it certainly reads as a neighbours tit-for-tat planning debacle, but the screen netting is a significant concern to our home and property. If approved then for ever more, even if the club were to sell up, any developer could apply for a similar wall of light blocking material to our home. That's not good.

Our complaint. 

It's a long story. Too much to explain.

Gerry Goldwyre
Cemetery Lodge
Cemetery Road
EH22 3DL
11th Feb 2018
Ref DLTC/46/ltr Planning

OBJECTION   Ref No. 17/00747/DPP
Letter of Objection
We are writing this additional letter of objection because additional time was granted after planning officer Laura Kinsey reviewed our concerns regarding;
(a) Omission of the application from the weekly list and (b) Changes on the portal to documents. The portal document previously described as “correspondence” was changed to “Supporting Statement” and dated Dec 22nd. Hence it was not reviewed as a supporting statement when we made our initial objection and it makes a substantial difference to the appreciation of what the application proposes.

The supporting statement indicates that the club wish to retain 3 layers of netting on the fence on our boundary. This presents an unacceptable impact onto our home and we have therefore sought independent advice for our objection.
The supporting statement does not concur with the e mail correspondence between the club representatives and ourselves. Leaving us to wonder exactly what is proposed and if the club representatives know what is proposed.

E mail correspondence

*******Removed pending replacement*******

Extract from above.
Hi Susan,

I’d just like to re-iterate what Clare (President) and I (Secretary) discussed with you and Gerry at our recent meeting. The Tennis Club are happy to remove the two layers of aqua screening and replace it with one layer of dark green which will be folded down at the end of the playing season. We felt it was necessary to continue with the planning application to ensure that we were within our rights to keep the dark green screening at all other times. We feel the darker screening is necessary to stop light in the late summer distracting play especially on courts one and two – it can be very distracting when trying to serve or hit a smash. I discussed all these points in our recent meeting with Graeme King.


What is in realty being proposed is a solid structure that is 7m high above our internal ground floor and higher than our bedroom window.

The application is to install, amongst other things, new netting and structures at the tennis courts on Cemetery Road. We now have the following comments.

1.     The scope of the application is wholly unclear. It is not possible to determine exactly what is proposed. The description, the drawings and the ‘’supporting statement’’ all say different things. There are glaring omissions (such as no elevations for the proposed fence, its distance from neighboring property, and its impact on our neighboring property).
2.    There are contradictions (the number of layers of netting, its appearance, and the effect and impact of it). It is wholly unsound for Midlothian Council to consider this application without absolute clarification of what exactly is proposed. This application should not be determined until it is known exactly what is proposed and the effect of what is proposed can be judged properly. There should be no repeat of the previous retrospective approval where inadequate information was approved without appropriate consideration or conditions.
3.    A submitted drawing by the applicant repeats an incorrect assertion that the netting has been requested by a neighbour. This statement should be deleted, on the basis that it is wholly untrue.
4.    Of equal importance and note, is the failure to identify why this net screening is required at all. The fence (of robust enough material to stop balls) is to the north side of the court. It does not need additional netting to screen light as substantial light is north light. Not far away are the Council’s tennis court in King’s Park. Those courts do not have a similar dense netting treatment to their north/west side. In Midlothian, this type of added-on net treatment is not used at all as far as we are aware. Additionally, in research of tennis courts across the country, we could find no example of any court with a 4.8m high fence. It begs the question as to why is it needed here?  What is the justification for the netting? Why was the netting previously approved without adequate justification?  The addition of netting fundamentally transforms a ball proof fence from see through and subtle in the landscape, to solid and intrusive in the landscape. The case officer’s consideration in 2014 was not especially thorough in this respect and others. 
5.    The site is located in a conservation area, close to listed buildings and in a sensitive local natural landscape. The approval for bright aqua coloured netting in 2014 failed to take account of the fact that the netting could be seen over considerable distance. Not only is it visible from Ironmills Park it is visible from the train. The case officer did not appear to consider visibility from the footpath now train line, but nevertheless fully and unequivocally in the public domain. He considered that it was not out of character with the area because it was in place. That approach is both sloppy and flawed. It is - as a modern and synthetic material - visually intrusive and out of character with the conservation area and wider natural environment. It is inappropriate and visually harmful to the conservation area and to the natural environment. Simply because there was netting in place in 2014 (when the application was retrospective) did not mean it did not give rise to harm then. Now exactly the same applies.
6.    In assessing the current application, the case officer neighbours and the public must know exactly what is being proposed, in order to judge it. In this case it is not at all clear. Once the officer has established the materials, the colour, the appearance, the density and the number of layers, then the application can be fully considered, and the issues fully developed.  The fact that the applicant wishes to create a screen that obscures the sun, will result in this screen adopting the characteristics of a solid wall, and should be assessed as such.  It is incorrect to seek views now when information is clearly missing and the application deficient. With the information that is available online it is impossible for the neighbours, the Community Council or the wider public to judge the effect.
7.    The effect of the netting on the tennis club in planning terms will be neutral. The effect upon the wider landscape was noted by the Reporter (considering other matters within our residential plot) who commented on the effect of the fence in the wider context. The effect of the high fence would be negligible if the netting was removed.  Views would be through it. The fact that the Scottish Office Reporter mentioned it all was clearly because it did not sit especially comfortably in the landscape.
8.    The impact of the proposal on our amenity was not previously considered properly. Our house lies to the north and at a substantially lower level than the top of the fence. The huge extent of elevated applied netting stretches along the south boundary of our residential curtilage. Orientation matters, yet it apparently previously ignored in 2014. For information and to ensure that the case officer is reminded of the facts, our home was built within residential ground. The land was residential and was part of the curtilage of Cemetery Lodge. Indeed, the land predates the tennis courts. The amenity of our home is diminished by the existence of the netting due to its shading effect and that effect could far more seriously harmful and compounded depending on what is proposed as part of this application. However, neither the we or the planning case officer can judge the proposal, as it is not clear or evident what materials are to be used and how much light will be blocked. That cannot be established without samples of the material and a proper specification. The application may be partly retrospective, but it is unclear what part is retrospective. It would not be unreasonable to ask the applicant to prove there would be no impact or harm.
9.    The effect on Susan and I would be upon our established amenity and the light we enjoy in the garden and upon the amenity and light we enjoy in our upper floor bedroom, and the ground floor lounge living space. It cannot be right to potentially reduce our enjoyment of our property contrary to the Human Rights Act, Article 1 of the First Protocol: Protection of property. Local Planning Authorities must be fair in striking a balance between the interests of a property owner and another owner or in terms of the public interest.
10.  We are potentially exposed to an almost solid screen that will block light 365 days a year to accommodate a few hours of dappled sunshine onto one end of the tennis courts for a couple of hours on perhaps 20 days a year if the sun shines. A reasonable alternative may be to wear a cap with a visor when playing.
11.   The applicant states that there has always been netting on the club fence. Research has proved this is inaccurate, for two reasons. One former member recalls no netting what so ever in his playing days between 1994 and 1998. Additionally, tight weave plastic mesh was not produced until the 1960’s.
12. The applicant states that our potting shed blocks light to our property. When the sun moves across from the East to the West, the time of day when our potting shed could block light is when the sun is already behind trees at the back of our woodland. We have no loss of sunlight due to our potting shed. But the applicants comment only serves to demonstrate ignorance on light impact on our property, which is another reason why independent assessment of light impact should have been undertaken.
To make this point these photos show the sun trajectory on 11th Feb 2018 from our bedroom window. Between the hours of 1pm and 4pm.

Approx 1pm 11 Feb – the screen netting showing the previously approved aqua netting on the RHS and adjacent section on LHS showing the triple layered block.

Approx 4 pm 11th Feb showing the potting shed and the setting sun long before the potting shed could create shade. Screen netting is the previously approved aqua coloured netting only, the club President having removed the additional green layer on this section in a spirit of co-operation.

These matters set out here should be considered in full and prior to the determination of the application.

If approved it will set precedent for anyone to erect an effective solid wall 5m high on a neighbours property.

See Enc photos 1,2,3, and 4

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trossachs National Park visit

Posted on Reforesting Scotland's Thousands Huts Campaign.

We recently had a lovely visit from folks involved in planning in The Trossachs National Park. 
Mainly because we have built around trees without damaging the trees and they are interested to see that done.

We haven't built an off grid hut but some of the construction and planning issues are similar.
Our build is cheek and jowl with a double stemmed sycamore, a beech and a poplar. The final result will be a build nestled in the trees.

I'll post more photos when it's finished. Roof and walls are to be clad in pine.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Potting Shed Furniture

Found in T K Maxx...... Just perfect. 2 Potting shed potting trays. With wine racks!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Potting Shed Progress Report 1

Weather has been kind this February. After a slow start to establish acceptability of the foundations with the engineer, we finally managed to begin works on the site.

  • The old sitting out area was demolished and materials stored for potential re -use.

  • A mini digger was carefully taken on site to dig the holes for the foundations.

  • The soil from the holes re used throughout the site. Good soil spread onto garden beds. Sands and gravels slipped easily onto the old landslip to rest at the base above the river. 

It's never worth writing too much. Photographs tell all.

The site in Feb 2013

Sitting Out Area Demolished Feb 2017

The mini digger on a stunning day in February 2017


Setting Out
Pretty tidy site I think.

Potting Shed Feb 2017. Tree Works

It's been a busy time at water tower wood. Even the dreaded month of January slipped by without concern for short daylight days. It's now mid February and in the last 2 weeks the Potting Shed works have started.

But lets go back a bit, to the end of last year. 

Not long after planning permission was granted for the potting shed, a "works to trees" application by Dalkeith Tennis Club appeared on the planning web site. The application included the removal of a poor specimen Poplar tree on our ground. Should permission be granted they said, then our permission would be sought. May seem strange to some, but it is perfectly acceptable to raise a planning application on any property. If planning permission is given it is up to the owner of the land to then allow the works to go ahead.

Not surprisingly the Poplar tree was granted felling/planning permission and we happily engaged with the contractors who came to price for the task on behalf of the Tennis Club. This same Poplar tree was requested to be felled about 6 or 7 years ago by ourselves, but at this time, permission was not given. 

Hey ho. I'm sure there was good reason at the time.

This Poplar tree is hard against the tennis club fence and directly behind the new potting shed site. Felling will have to be completed before the shed is built to make life easy.

Meeting with the contractors made me look at hard at the grouping of trees. Meeting with one particular contractor, Frontier Forestry, I was less than impressed at their attitude on our site and as a result, after much discussion with G, we decided that we would carry out our own tree works and keep all under our own control. 

Looking at the site of the Poplar then and taking our own advice from Wilson Jamieson Forestry, we raised an application to fell the Poplar and the Sycamore next to it. The tree officer visited and discussed. Their agreement and approval is documented on the planning web site reference; 

17/00062/WTT | Felling and pruning of trees within the Eskbank and Ironmills conservation area | RP9 Dalkeith Water Tower Cemetery Road Dalkeith

Sycamore LHS with split trunk. Poplar RHS. Both to be felled. 

The e mail correspondence at the time.

5th Nov 2016


Yesterday we had a visit from someone in your company who was preparing an estimate for tree works at The Dalkeith Lawn Tennis Club. In discussion on tree works, the death of a TPOd sycamore tree was raised by your company as “honey fungus - I can smell it” and “how long has your house been built - that’s what killed your tree”.
Such loose language accompanied by a criticism of the Forestry Research organisation is unacceptable.
I make no further comment at this juncture but I attach a copy of the report on the tree from the Forestry Research. Please beware raising opinions on house build foundations, tree death and any other comments/criticisms associated with the property behind the tennis club, when your lack of knowledge was so very evident.
Susan Goldwyre

I attach the tree report and e mail from the forest pathologist for your info.

Report attached from Dr Steven Hendry
Forest Pathologist
Forest Research
Northern Research Station

EH25 9S)


Dear Susan,

Thanks for your email.  I am just back from holiday.

I have been an arborist for 25 years and been involved in the investigation and removal many hundreds of dying and dead trees so I can assure you that my knowledge and experience isn’t lacking.  I have also worked on a number of sites where Forest Research have also been involved (we are also based at the Bush Estate) and as it happens I have the highest regard for the good research done by members in this organisation.

I have no interest in the reasons why your tree died because I have not been asked to look into it and FR have clearly investigated it in great detail and drawn their conclusions.

Best wishes, Andrew

Andrew Jenkins (Managing Director)
FRONTIER FORESTRY LTD - Urban and Rural Tree Surgeons
Bush House, Edinburgh Technopole, Milton Bridge, near Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0BB

Tel: (0131) 445 8652  Fax: (0131) 445 8699
Company No: SC192 181  Registered in Scotland.    VAT No: 789 7792 31


Dear Andrew
If it was yourself who visited at Cemetery Road recently then it was yourself who gave a less than glowing opinion on Forestry Research. 
I am delighted however that you have them in the highest regard after all.
Kind Regards
Susan Goldwyre