by OSSIE SHEARER
The national coordinator of an anti-incineration campaign group describes Scottish Borders Council's plans for a Renewable Energy Facility at Easter Langlee as half-baked, and believes the scheme drawn up by contractors commissioned by the council had not been properly thought through.
This damning critique comes from the UK Without Incineration Network (UKWIN) which opposes the development of waste treatment facilities that involve the large scale burning of waste for conversion to electricity and heat.
It has already been claimed SBC should have gone ahead with a conventional plant which received an operating permit from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) almost three years ago, but which has not been delivered.
Instead the council and New Earth Solutions (Scottish Borders) Ltd took a high-risk joint decision in October 2012 to amend their contract to allow the energy from waste plant to be built at the same time as the rest of the facility.
It has now been disclosed that the venture soon ran into trouble over unresolved technical and environmental issues. New Earth could not convince SEPA that the agency should sanction major variations in the conditions attached to the permit for the Easter Langlee project.
The £27 million scheme collapsed in disarray earlier this year when the two parties terminated their 24-year contract after just four years, and NES withdrew its application to SEPA. Files of correspondence released by SEPA under Freedom of Information requests have revealed the sheer scale of the unresolved issues surrounding the controversial, untried technology.
Email exchanges between SEPA and NES have been passed to Shlomo Dowen, the UKWIN national coordinator, for comment.
Mr Dowen told Not Just Sheep & Rugby:"The SEPA emails and letters certainly show the Agency had plenty of questions for the applicant. The Agency's healthy scepticism regarding the so-called End of Waste status of purified synthetic gas from incineration could be a genuine barrier to any other similar proposals coming forward."
He claimed the inadequacy of the NES environment permit application had resulted in SEPA posing questions, the answers to which rather than satisfying SEPA only resulted in more questions, indicating that the proposals had not been properly thought through by the applicant.
"The Freedom of Information response indicates that SEPA was not satisfied that the proposal would operate as claimed in relation to emissions and noise", said Mr Dowen. "It appears the applicant did not have a clear idea of what it was they would actually be treating at their plant and that the proposal was therefore seen as half-baked."
According to Mr Dowen, this indicated the developer would need to build up a successful track record, get their heads round what it was they were actually proposing, and come up with a coherent plan for addressing the issues identified by SEPA before they could proceed.