£15m bill for festive fat
A utilities company has said the costs of cleaning up cooking fat poured down skins in Scotland amounts to £15m a year.
Workers from the Scottish Water have dug out football-sized chunks of solidified cooking fat from a pump station in Thurso.
The same problem is expected this year and the company have asked the public to let oils cool until solid and dispose of the fats using normal bins.
A spokesman said: "Half the time we are called out to resolve a choke that is causing pollution or flooding, it turns out to be caused by fat.
"We don't have a figure for how much it costs us but across the UK the water industry is estimated to be spending £15m a year dealing with it."
The spokesman said: "That would chew up several days, diverting staff from other work they could be doing for the benefit of customers."
It is an offence under the Sewerage Scotland Act 1968 to dispose of fat down the sink or drain.
The estimated cost to Scottish Water to clear out one pumping station is £20,000.
Catering establishments are recommended to have a fat trap installed. In other countries it is a legal obligation to have one fitted but not in this country.
While the festive season can be bad for the practice, the problem hits a peak in the summer.
Nairn in the Highlands was identified as one of the big trouble spots.
The spokesman said: "Earlier this year we discovered the main sewer that runs along the east bank of the river from Merryton Bridge was struggling to cope.
"It was causing spillages, flooding the footpath. A camera investigation showed that the pipe's 450mm diameter had been reduced by half by a build up of fat.