Government rejects Perth waste incinerator plans

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a £100 million waste incinerator in the heart of Perth have been rejected by the Scottish Government.

Peter Wishart. Picture: SNS
Peter Wishart. Picture: SNS

Scottish Ministers have refused an appeal by Grundon Waste Management to site the giant waste to energy plant at Shore Road, near Perth Prison, following a lengthy public inquiry last year.

And today local politicians appealed to the company to accept the decision and abandon the scheme for the “pollutant-belching monstrosity”.

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Grundon lodged an appeal with the Scottish Government after Perth and Kinross councillors rejected plans to site the waste to energy plant on an area between the River Tay and the South Inch parklands for a second time.

An eight-day public inquiry was held last year into the controversial development. Perth and Kinross Council, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the local community and Perth Prison management vigorously opposed the scheme.

The Prison Service claimed that constant noise and vibrations from the plant could cause prisoners to protest, refuse to work or even assault staff.

The inquiry reporter Dannie Onn has rejected the appeal. And his decision has now been upheld by Scottish Ministers.

Mr Onn states in his report: “The urban location of the appeal site is sensitive to the introduction of a large scale plant. The risk of harm to the amenity of those living nearby is greater than it would be with a smaller facility or a more open location. It is therefore necessary, on the balance of risk, to assess more carefully how significant the impacts would be. In this case, there is insufficient information to predict accurately and reassuringly whether the impacts would be acceptable or not.

“In some cases, it might be safe to allow the detailed matters to be dealt with by the licensing regime. However, SEPA (the Scottish Environment Protection Agency) remains unconvinced that a licence could be granted for the facility as proposed here. It may be that a plant of the scale and type proposed could be shown to be acceptable, but the design before me has not evolved sufficiently to be sure that it could.”

He adds: “I find that the detailed measures for the control of noise, dust and other forms of potential pollution have not been satisfactorily addressed in the proposal at appeal.”

A spokesman for Grundon Waste Management said the company was “disappointed” by the Scottish Ministers’ decision to turn down its latest appeal for the plant in the city.

Andrew Short, Grundon’s Estates Director, said: “Our revised proposal of May 2011 addressed everything that had been asked of us in the DPEA Reporter’s conclusion on the previous appeal. Taken together with all the additional information and technical assessments we produced, we were confident that the Scottish Ministers would recognise both the suitability and the sustainability of our proposals.

“This facility would have made a positive contribution towards meeting the Scottish target for zero waste to landfill. It would also have made a significant contribution to the local economy in terms of both wealth and employment creation.”

He added: “We strongly believe this is a missed opportunity for both Perth and Scotland and we will now consider our position in terms of our next steps.”

Pete Wishart the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, welcomed the Government decision.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish ministers have upheld Perth and Kinross Council’s refusal of Grundon’s application for an incinerator on Shore Road. I sincerely hope that this means the end, at last, for the prospect of this pollutant belching monstrosity blighting our city.”

He claimed: “The application, even in its amended version, would have dominated the city skyline and was completely inappropriate for a site so close to the city centre. The people of Perth made their views on this issue perfectly clear, the council stood by them and now that decision has been backed up by the Scottish Ministers. It is now time that Grundon listened to the message they have been given.”

Roseanna Cunningham the SNP MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, said: “This is good news for all of Perth. Shore Road may be just outside my constituency but pollutant fumes are no respecters of boundaries.

“The views of the people of Perth have been made clear and have been upheld in the face of Grundon’s continued appeals. This whole saga has dragged on long enough – it is time to move on.”