City recycles waste depot bid

PLANS to create a huge waste depot in the Capital have been secretly revived just 18 months after a massive public outcry forced the idea to be ditched.

Council officials are in detailed talks with a private firm about creating the busy depot beside hundreds of new homes near Leith Docks.

The move comes after plans were abandoned in the face of protests by more than 5000 residents. Then, city leader Donald Anderson said the council had to learn to be more "open and honest" with the public.

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Now documents leaked to the Evening News show detailed discussions are taking place about moving operations from the council's ageing Powderhall depot to a massive warehouse on Bath Road, off Salamander Street.

The site is opposite a massive new residential development and close to where a multi-million-pound international art gallery is planned, in the former VA Tech factory, in Leith Docks.

It is understood Regenerate Scotland, a recycling business based in Bath Road, is expecting to carry out a month-long pilot of the proposals starting in mid-May.

Checks have been carried out on a disused railway line which would connect the new plant with a landfill site at Dunbar.

It is believed up to 70 lorries a day would deliver waste from around the city to the new plant, which is expected to handle 150,000 tonnes of waste a year.

Councillor Anderson today said he had been told nothing of the plans - despite the detailed discussions being held by officials.

Campaigners, who collected 5000 signatures on a protest petition in two weeks in 2004, warned today they were preparing for a new battle.

The council came under fire two years ago for failing to consult the public on plans to set up a waste depot in an industrial yard on Salamander Street.

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But today furious residents and the local Labour councillor said they had found themselves the same position. Rob Kirkwood, head of the Leith Links Residents' Association, said: "One of the workers at Powderhall told me it's expected to close within weeks to make way for this new place.

"It's almost beyond belief that the council would try to open a giant waste plant in the heart of a regeneration area. They had better be prepared for another battle."

Local councillor Phil Attridge said: "Neither myself or any of the local residents have been told anything about this, which is exactly what happened the last time.

"From what I understand, this is all going to kick off next month and we're going to have dozens of lorries driving through Leith every day, dumping their waste.

"I just don't believe that the council was simply approached by this company and asked for advice on this. It's clear discussions have been on-going for some time."

Cllr Anderson today insisted no decision to relocate the city's waste transfer facility from Powderhall to Leith had been taken, and pledged that a report would be brought before councillors on the discussions that had been ongoing between the authority and Regenerate Scotland.

He added: "My understanding is that the council had had an approach from this company, which already has a licence to handle waste at its plant in Leith.

"We do desperately need to replace Powderhall and no-one wants a facility like this on their doorstep, and this is not the same location as was discussed previously.

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"It is disappointing, however, that no elected members have been briefed about the discussions that have been ongoing, bearing in mind how this was handled the last time."

Shemish Teague, managing director of Teague Homes, which is planning a 100m housing development on the site of the Whyte and Mackay bottling plant at Salamander Place, added: "The first I heard about this was when I asked two railway workers what they were doing yesterday.

"As far as I was aware these proposals were dead, but it sounds like the council is being sneaky and trying to bring them in through the back door again."

Regenerate Scotland declined to comment on its plans.

However, an insider at the firm said talks with the council were at an advanced stage and officials were keen on the site being used as a replacement for Powderhall.

The source said: "The council believes we can provide the solution, particularly because of the direct rail link between here and the landfill site at Dunbar."

A council spokesman said:

"Nothing has been decided yet and the public will be informed when that is the case."

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