IT is one of Scotland’s most popular beauty spots, drawing thousands of visitors, that is also home to a variety of nesting birds and bat roosts.

But residents have lost a battle to block plans for a seven mile water pipeline that will go through Mugdock Country Park and around Milngavie Reservoir.

Friends of Milngavie Reservoir (FOMR) raised objections with the Scottish Government to the estimated £25 million proposal to lay water pipes, amid concerns it would cause devastation to the area and adding that details of the Scottish Water plans were discovered “by accident”.

Now the Scottish Government has rejected their appeal to intervene, after it emerged East Dunbartonshire Council has approved the project, deciding it is ‘permitted development’ and does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

The new pipeline plan, which forms part of the network serving greater Glasgow, coincides with the closure of the 1950s-built Burncrooks Water Treatment Works, which Scottish Water has said is not suitable to meet long term water quality standards.

Scottish Water says the project which will mean laying pipes around Milngavie and the construction of at least two water pumping stations, aims to improve water quality for more than 50,000 people. whose supplies came from the Burncrooks tratement works.

Scottish Water has already acknowledged in an initial assessment that the route will have an impact on “sensitive areas” such as the Mugdock Wood Site of Special Scientific Interest, Milngavie Reservoirs Conservation Area and Mugdock Country Park.

Further concerns have arisen after it emerged contractors received £3000 in fines over two charges of watercourse pollution in December 2004 and January 2005 during the construction of a new £120 million water treatment works at the Barrachan site north of Milngavie.

That Scottish Water project went ahead after years of delays, planning rows and objections.

Alan Douglas, of FOMR, said: “There are now grave concerns over Scottish Water’s plan for a £25m upgrade to Glasgow’s drinking water. The concern is that there will be little environmental monitoring of the project during construction, even though it passes through a Site of Special Scientific Interest and there is a serious risk of run-off pollution into the neighbouring Tannoch Loch, as happened during the last major construction project 13 years ago.

“The feeling is that all the decisions have been made on an engineering and cost basis, without considering the impact on the environment, the recreational facility or the risk of pollution…along with the lack of public consultation and community involvement.”

FOMR chairman, Eddy Yacoubian, added: “We’re obviously disappointed that both East Dunbartonshire Council and now the Scottish Government have decided to wash their hands of having any influence on this major project.”

The group had feared that Scottish Water were attempting to “slip through” the major construction project as permitted development, avoiding the need for a planning application or public consultation or EIA.or an EIA .and “it’s believed this is why they have effectively kept it under wraps".

They have taken their concerns to local MP Jo Swinson who said she was “hugely disappointed” by the council decision not to undertake a full Environmental Impact Assessment.

She added: "I feel that this does not address the local community’s concerns about the project."

In a letter to East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson, South West Water chief executive, Douglas Millican, said: “We have been working closely with Scottish Natural Heritage, East Dunbartonshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland for some months to identify a route through these areas that would have minimal impact.

“Work will be carried out in sensitive areas... with absolute regard to the nature of those locations and we will take care to minimise disruption and reinstate to ensure no negative impact.”

A council report over the project concluded that while the the project crosses areas of “environmental sensitivity”, the site was “essentially a long narrow corridor” and could be created “to minimise environmental impacts”.

It added: “The construction and laying of a water pipeline at this location is not considered to have the potential to result in significant environmental effects associated with the development.”

In 2011, Scottish Water was widely criticised over failures which led to high aluminium levels affecting supplies to 12,000 homes near Glasgow.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator said the incident in March at Burncrooks Water Treatment Works, near Bearsden, had been badly handled.

The Milngavie reservoir, which is a visitor attraction. is made up of the Craigmaddie and Mugdock reservoirs which were opened in 1859 by Queen Victoria.

It became the main supplier of water to the city of Glasgow holding up to 548 million gallons of water.

The waterworks led to the virtual eradication of typhoid and cholera, diseases which were widespread at the time, in the city.

In a conservation survey carried out at the reservoirs in 2006, one of the noteworthy features was the sheer number of wintering bird species, including significant populations of mallard and tufted duck, while other species of conservation importance included skylark, song thrush, spotted flycatcher and bullfinch.