SCOTLAND risks being hit with costs of more than £1 billion as it is forced to export waste to England or overseas to cope with an upcoming landfill ban, an official report has warned.

Experts said the lack of waste treatment capacity north of the Border will create a shortfall of up to 1.28 million tonnes of rubbish which must be dealt with elsewhere.

It comes amid widespread concerns the Scottish Government’s 2021 ban on sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill will not be achieved.

Scottish Tory shadow environment secretary Maurice Golden said it was “blatantly obvious that this target was nothing but an SNP gimmick”.

He said: “The nationalists made a daft prediction without either the ability or willingness to achieve it.

READ MORE: Campaigners call for receipts to be outlawed in a bid to reduce waste 

“This damning report shows that their target is wildly off-schedule. And what’s even more worrying is the cost to Scotland’s economy of this catastrophic misjudgement could be more than £1 billion.

“Everyone accepts progress has to be made when it comes to recycling and disposing of waste but the SNP have run out of ideas on how to do this.

“Our oceans are filling with plastic and other waste which could easily have originated in Scotland.”

A report by Eunomia Research & Consulting, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government, found nine councils – representing 23.6 per cent of household waste – have no alternative arrangements in place ahead of the ban.

Meanwhile, three authorities have long-term solutions in place but nothing short-term, and six have the opposite problem. This is despite the “significant notice” given, with the landfill ban announced in 2012.

Eunomia’s modelling found there will be insufficient residual waste treatment capacity to deal with Scotland’s rubbish. The extent of the gap will depend on the level of recycling achieved.

If current targets are met, Scotland is on course for a shortfall of 1.01m tonnes of treatment capacity in 2021 compared to the amount of rubbish produced. If recycling rates remain the same but waste generation increases, this shortfall grows to 1.28m tonnes – and will still be 1.15m tonnes by 2035.

The report adds: “Excluding consideration of waste minimisation and recycling, the ban will result in significant economic costs to Scotland due to the need to export an increased amount of residual waste – whether as an interim solution until new thermal treatment capacity comes online, or as a long-term solution.

“This has the effect of exporting revenue to English or continental landfill or treatment providers.”

READ MORE: Concerns raised over level of waste dumped in landfills 

However, the ban will lead to “an overall environmental benefit to Scotland”, the report found – while the “greater the recycling rate that can be achieved, the smaller the amount of residual waste that will need to be managed, lessening the economic impact upon Scotland”.

Economic modelling found the worst case scenario would see Scotland hit with costs of £1.16bn to deal with the ban – with £1.13bn of this falling on councils. The best case scenario would see costs of £414m.

But the authors noted that the economic and environmental boost expected from a rise in reuse and recycling was not reflected in the results.

Malcolm Todd, of waste industry consultancy firm MT Consulting, insisted Scotland has “a moral duty to deal with our own waste”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “It would make a mockery of the law if the SNP’s solution to meeting their own landfill ban is to ship it to England or abroad.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “committed to ending the practice of sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill”.

She said it is “disappointing that the report...highlights significant challenges associated with delivering the ban and uncertainty about the readiness of some councils to deliver it”.

She added: “We have been working closely with local authorities and commercial bodies to assess and support progress towards implementing the ban.

“The Waste Markets Study adds to that understanding and will help inform further action.”

She said the focus would now be on working with councils which do not yet have solutions in place, as well as raising awareness in the commercial sector.