Food waste plant backers detect a whiff of success

PLANS to build a controversial recycling plant which is designed to turn tens of thousands of tonnes of food waste into compost have moved a step forward.

Planning permission was granted for the Millerhill site near Old Craighall last year, despite fierce opposition. Now, a contractor is set to be appointed to build the facility, which will deal with more than 60,000 tonnes of food waste from the Lothians every year.

Alauna Renewable Energy Ltd (ARE) has been named preferred bidder by Zero Waste Scotland – a joint campaign between Edinburgh and Midlothian councils.

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Construction at the site is expected to begin in 2014, with the plant up and running by the end of 2015.

However, concerns have been raised about smells, noise and even health risks. Some residents said they feared the value of their homes could plummet.

The first images of how the plant will look have now been revealed, with bosses insisting no smell will escape.

The treatment uses a process called anaerobic digestion, creating composted material which is used as an agricultural fertiliser in crop production.

Councillor Jim Orr, environment vice-convener at the city council, said: “This is a key part of our long-term strategy to increase recycling in Edinburgh.

“These state-of-the-art facilities will provide a long-term, value for money treatment solution for food waste collected by both councils with the potential to produce a range of local benefits, particularly green energy.”

ARE is set to sign a 20-year contract to look after the design, finance, construction and operation of the facility.

It is expected the deal will be completed by the end of the year. A visitor centre is also among plans for the recycling plant.

Councillor Jim Bryant, cabinet member for economic development at Midlothian Council, said: “I am pleased that the successful bidder has chosen to locate the facilities on a site provided by the partner councils at Millerhill.

“This is the first step of the council’s vision for a ‘zero waste parc’ at the site.

“We are excited about the regeneration of derelict industrial land and the future benefits that this could bring to the local area.”

Peter Sharpe, managing director at ARE, a joint venture between Kelda Water Services and Scottish Water Horizons, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the preferred bidder on such an exciting, innovative and ambitious project.

“We will now be working hard to complete the final project details with the zero waste team so that we can deliver a world-class facility to the partner councils.”