HeraldScotland:

Communities in South Lanarkshire are used to fighting off plans for big new waste incinerators. They’ve done it before.

In 2012 the Dovesdale Action Group won a battle to block the building of an energy-from-waste plant near Stonehouse. About 24,000 people wrote letters objecting to the plan.

But now, according to the group’s John Young, they are having to “get the band back together”. The waste company, Viridor, has come up with another proposal for an incinerator in the area that, if built, would be the biggest in Scotland.

The company is preparing to apply this summer to South Lanarkshire Council for planning permission to construct an “energy recovery facility” at Overwood near the M74. The plant will be designed to burn up to 330,000 tonnes of waste every year.

READ MORE: Revealed: 30,000 tonnes of recycling waste burnt in incinerators in Scotland

The Dovesdale Action Group is re-mobilising all its resources to try and stop it, and promises thousands of objections. “If we are to be seen worldwide as a leader in recycling, we should not be sweeping our waste under the carpet by burning valuable resources,” argued Young.

“We need to see a national moratorium urgently to assess the impact of incineration on our health, economy and climate change now.” 

He argued that revelations about the impact of incinerators on “poor” recycling practices and climate change did not inspire confidence. “In effect we are burning resources, the cost of which is increasingly becoming apparent in costly local authority contracts,” he said.

The action group’s campaign has already been backed by a range of politicians. The SNP candidate for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie, has called for “a national moratorium on new incinerators across our country”.

Màiri McAllan, the SNP candidate for neighbouring Clydesdale, also issued a statement saying that she was opposing the Overwood incinerator. The SNP election manifesto committed to “reviewing the role that incineration plays”.

The Scottish Greens’ manifesto promised to “oppose the construction of new incinerators”. Scottish Labour’s candidate for Clydesdale, Claudia Beamish, said she “will fight hard to oppose the incinerator at Overwood.”

Viridor, however, saw things differently. The plant would convert “non-recyclable waste” into energy using a “modern, state-of-the-art process”, it told The Ferret.

The company pointed out that 1.43 million tonnes of household and other waste were sent to landfill in 2019. “This waste is otherwise known as non-recyclable waste and could therefore be managed at an energy recovery facility instead of landfill,” said a company spokesperson.

“The Scottish Government has put a ban on the landfilling of this type of waste by 2025. Therefore it is vitally important that alternative waste infrastructure such as energy recovery facilities are developed to ensure this can be achieved, with every tonne of waste diverted from landfill to energy recovery reducing carbon emissions.”

Viridor insisted it was playing a leading role in driving up recycling rates with facilities across the UK. “In 2019-20 Viridor diverted 5.5 million tonnes of waste from landfill and 2.6 million tonnes were recycled through its network of 16 material recycling facilities,” the spokesperson added.

“Energy was recovered from 2.9 million tonnes of non-recyclable waste by its fleet of 10 energy recovery facilities.”

In South Lanarkshire the company said it was carrying out “pre-application consultation with the local community and stakeholders”. Its planning application was “due to be submitted this summer”.

Viridor is also applying for a pollution permit from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa). The permit would only be granted “if Sepa is satisfied that the operation of the facility will not result in unacceptable impacts upon local population and the environment,” the company said.


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