£177m Scottish incinerator plant gets green light

An artist's impression of the incinerator plant in East Lothian. Picture: Contributed

An artist's impression of the incinerator plant in East Lothian. Picture: Contributed

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A NEW £177 million waste-burning plant which will incinerate more than 300,000 tonnes of rubbish a year has been given the stamp of approval.

Part of a drive to promote renewable energy, the project is expected to support 350 jobs during construction and 55 once the facility is operational.

Viridor will build the recycling plant at the Oxwellmains waste treatment hub near Dunbar in East Lothian and the firm say it will help Scotland meet its ambition of becoming a zero waste country.

The decision to proceed with the project was announced yesterday after funding approval was granted by Viridor’s parent company, Pennon Group.

A system, known as an “energy recovery facility”, allows electricity to be generated from waste that would otherwise be buried as landfill and will be able to power almost 40,000 homes all year round.

The company secured planning consent for the site from Scottish ministers in December 2010, and approval from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in 2011.

In 2012, they got the go ahead from East Lothian Council to allow waste to be transported to the new Oxwellmains facility from anywhere in Scotland – a move that provoked anger from local protesters and environmentalist who claim the emissions may be toxic.

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Viridor has now said it will go ahead with the project, with completion due in December 2017. Ian McAulay, chief executive of Viridor, said: “I am pleased to announce final approval for our £177m Oxwellmains energy recovery facility project, our latest investment in Scotland’s green economy.

“With an ambitious zero waste agenda focused on waste reduction, reuse, enhanced recycling and recovering energy from what remains, Scotland is realising the value of waste as a resource, rather than something that is simply thrown away. But it will require major investment to translate policy into practice. That’s why Viridor has announced investment of £357m in Scotland in the last 18 months.”

He added: “We look forward to announcing further information shortly regarding our technology and construction partners, and our programme of community benefits including opportunities for small businesses and local recruitment.”

The plant will generate 30MW of base-load renewable energy direct to the grid – the equivalent of 39 wind turbines – and it will produce 10MW of heat, available for local use.

Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This is a significant investment, which will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill while generating energy to the grid.

“The Scottish government has always made it clear that there can be a role for energy recovery from the limited amount of residual waste as landfill is phased out.

“This sits alongside our internationally ambitious targets for waste prevention and recycling as part of a suite of measures to make Scotland a greener, cleaner place to live.”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said it was “good news for Scotland’s growing economy”.

He said: “The UK government’s plan for energy is to power growth and jobs as we build clean, secure electricity infrastructure for the future.

“This centre fits the bill and will help Scotland fulfil its enormous green energy potential powering thousands of homes, ensuring we are at the centre of the UK’s low carbon economy.”

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