Thursday, 16 June 2016

Galashiels misses out on greenhouse gas celebrations

EWAN LAMB on another Scottish Borders landfill legacy

While the Scottish Government, environmentalists and climate change watchers have been hailing a dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions across the nation, there was at least one fly in the ointment which threatened to spoil the party.

We were told this week that the SNP administration at Holyrood had exceeded its target to reduce the release of harmful gases by 42% SIX years ahead of schedule. Backslapping and congratulations all round!

But down here in the Borders at the municipal Easter Langlee waste disposal site the trend so far as these damaging substances are concerned appears to have gone sharply in the opposite direction in the five years leading up to 2014, the year on which Scotland's latest data is based. And the upwards spiral (literally) of skyward emissions has been nothing short of dramatic and potentially catastrophic.

The statistics for a range of pollutants produced in each of Scotland's 32 local government areas are readily available on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency [SEPA] website. And the numbers linked to Scottish Borders Council's landfill site do not make pleasant reading.

Volumes of methane seeping from the tip ballooned from 274,000 kilograms in 2010 to 361,000 kg in 2014, representing an increase of 87,000 kg or 31.7%. The annual reporting threshold for methane is 10,000 kg which means the Borders emissions are exceeding that threshold 36-fold.

The data for so-called chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (hcfcs) - gases which are many times more lethal than methane - make equally depressing reading.

Any release of more than 1 kg per annum of these substances must be reported to SEPA. So far as CFCs are concerned the Galashiels facility produced 16.9 kg in 2010 and 31.1 kg in 2014, a five-year increase of 84%.

Over the same period HCFC releases shot up from 17.3 kg to 23.9 kg or 38.1%. It is hardly an environmental record to be proud of in anyone's book.

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