ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have warned that a Scottish Government failure to announce a moratorium on waste incinerators could lead to a rush of applications before any new rules come into action.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has branded the SNP-Greens government’s action to announce a review into the use of waste incineration but not halt applications as a “burners' charter”.

Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater announced yesterday that the government will conduct a review into the burning of waste – after levels of the practice have soared by 400 per cent since the SNP came to power in 2007.

But Ms Slater said the review would not be completed until after March next year and no moratorium will be placed on waste incineration, despite being included in the Greens manifesto.

The total amount of waste incinerated in Scotland in 2019 was 1.23Mt, double the amount burnt in 2011. At least another ten new incinerators are proposed across Scotland.

The country is set to miss its 70% recycling target for 2025, as recycling rates have slowed and even reversed in recent years.

In announcing the review, Ms Slater said the government’s “primary focus” was on reducing waste by boosting the proportion of waste reused and recycled.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens under fire for waste incineration u-turn 'embarrassment'

She said: “We will review the role incineration plays in Scotland’s waste hierarchy, including the need for new incineration capacity.

“To that end, we will appoint an independent chair to oversee the review, with a view to having a chair in place in October.”

The minister said it is hoped the review “will prioritise consideration of national capacity requirements for incineration” and also “have scope to consider how emissions from existing incinerators can be reduced”.

Ms Slater added: “The timeline for the review will be agreed with the independent chair.

“However, we are aware that the outcomes of this review will be important to inform ongoing discussions around local authority planning decisions and wider investment decisions. Therefore, we aim to begin to invite evidence for the review in November and to review available evidence between December 2021 and March 2022.

“We will publish the review as soon as possible once the review has been completed.”

But Friends of the Earth Scotland has labelled the lack of halting applications as a missed opportunity and has warned there could be a rush of applications in the meantime.

READ MORE: Waste incineration soars by 400% under the SNP

Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It is encouraging that an independent chair will oversee the review and its remit. The choice of the chair will be crucial in ensuring the review is fair and effective.

"It is essential that the views and concerns of community groups and environmental experts at the centre of the incineration debate are heard.

“The problem with the proposed review is that the Scottish Government has missed an opportunity to pause the exponential increase in incineration capacity as the review takes place. This omission is a green light for waste firms to rush in their planning applications to avoid any new restrictions that come out of the review. It is a burners’ charter.”

She added: “The alarming rise in incineration of waste in Scotland in recent years is making our net zero climate commitments more challenging to achieve. We cannot afford for this to continue because incinerators will lock us into decades of burning waste which should be recycled instead.

“There are lower carbon alternatives to incineration, which ensure valuable resources are returned to our economy. The review must provide Scotland with a low carbon exit strategy from incineration and deliver a circular economy.”