Scottish Water staff join The Polestar vessel to replace an unusual asset

Posted: Tuesday 9th January 2018

When two members of Scottish Water staff had the opportunity to board The Polestar vessel to witness the replacement of a Scottish Water buoy off the coast of Kirkcaldy Bay; you would be forgiven for wondering why.

As well as being responsible for a network of over 61,000 miles of water and waste water pipes throughout Scotland, Scottish Water also has responsibility for over 100 navigational aids, which warn vessels of the whereabouts of Scottish Water outfall pipes and underwater pipes.

The aids, comprising of buoys, beacons, lights and onshore marker posts, are offshore throughout Scotland including locations off the coast of Kirkcaldy, Orkney, Achnaba, Oban and the Isle of Arran.

Scottish Water's aid to navigation project works closely with the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) which carries out annual inspections on Scottish Water's navigational aids, advises where to place them to warn vessels and instructs when they need maintenance or replacement.

Ross Davies, assistant asset planner for Scottish Water's aid to navigation project, responsible for the offshore assets said: "A buoy can become loose due to sea conditions, be lost at sea or wash up onshore. If it's found onshore then we try to reuse it, but in the case of a replacement, our team does specific calculations to determine what type of buoy is most suitable depending on the wave heights of the location and its durability."

Speaking about his experience on The Polestar he continued: "We left from Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh and made our way to the buoy, just off the coast of Kirkcaldy. The team then used a heavy lifting device to pull it from the water, where they hosed it down before bringing it onboard to inspect the damage. They then deployed the new buoy and spent some time making sure it was in full working order and secured in the correct place.

"I thought I might not get the opportunity again so I grabbed it with both hands and it was a fantastic experience to see the whole process of deploying a buoy, as well as getting to meet members of the NLB and crew.

"I'm sure a lot of our customers aren't aware that Scottish Water use and are responsible for navigational aids so this film is a great way to raise awareness amongst the public."

Peter Douglas, Navigation Manager with NLB said: "We are delighted to be working with Scottish Water in helping to maintain marine safety in our waters, keeping vessels and infrastructure apart, to the benefit of both."

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April 2021

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