Fears landfill waste will be shipped to England after Scottish ban

Scottish ministers have been criticised after failing to confirm that waste will not be shipped to England once a landfill ban comes into force.

Green minister Lorna Slater said a recent review had "noted that export is one of the short-term options for the treatment of residual waste".

The Scottish Liberal Democrats insisted the Government needed to “get serious about cleaning up our natural environment”.

Ministers originally planned to ban all non-household biodegradable waste from entering landfill in 2021, but this was pushed back to 2025 amid delivery concerns.

Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


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Liam McArthur, the Liberal Democrats’ climate spokesman, asked the Government “whether residual waste will be exported to England" following the ban.

In a written question in Holyrood, he also asked for details of any of the English facilities involved, and how they will manage the exported waste.

In response, Ms Slater, the circular economy minister, said: “The recent independent review of the role of incineration found that while there may be temporary under-capacity of residual waste treatment in Scotland in 2025, when the ban on landfilling biodegradable municipal waste comes into force, there is a risk of long-term overcapacity beginning from 2026 or 2027, if all or most of the incineration capacity in the pipeline is built.

“The review noted that export is one of the short-term options for the treatment of residual waste in order to bridge the expected capacity gap.


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"However, we will continue to work closely with local authorities and commercial operators to support those that do not currently have solutions to treat their residual waste ahead of the forthcoming ban on landfilling biodegradable municipal waste in 2025, taking account of the recommendations of the independent review and ongoing assessment of residual waste requirements and available capacity.”

Ms Slater, who is the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, joined the Government after a cooperation agreement between the SNP and the Greens.

Mr McArthur said: “The Scottish Government originally said they would ban landfill by 2021. It turns out that their promise was total rubbish.

“Even with the target date pushed back to 2025, it is looking suspiciously like the Government will only be able to achieve this goal by shipping waste down the road to landfill in England or abroad.


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“It’s frustrating that when pressed for details of their plans for the future of Scotland’s waste disposal, the minister responds with vague platitudes and a depressing lack of detail.

“Carting lorryloads of garbage just beyond Berwick is even worse for the environment than landfilling it here because of the emissions generated by these journeys.

"I’m surprised that a so-called green minister cannot see that.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are demanding better.”


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A Scottish Government spokesman said the amount of waste going to landfill in Scotland “is at its lowest since records began”.

He added: “For the residual waste we do produce, we are continuing to support local authorities, through Zero Waste Scotland, to secure alternative treatment options for their residual waste, in preparation for the ban on landfilling biodegradable municipal waste in 2025. This support includes providing access to technical, legal and procurement advice.”


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