Monday, 15 August 2016

£5.5 million more needed for latest waste strategy


The failure by Scottish Borders Council and their bankrupt contractors  to deliver a £21 million waste treatment plant on the outskirts of Galashiels means a major new transfer station costing more than £5 million will now be built to enable the region's rubbish to be hauled out of the area by road for processing.

Community councils and a residents' association in an area close to the council's landfill site at Easter Langlee have received copies of a so-called Proposal of Application notice from the local authority.

It marks the beginning of a consultation process which will include at least one public event next month, according to paperwork published on the council's planning portal.

The documentation reveals that the building required to facilitate this latest set of waste management proposals will measure 57 metres by 34 metres (1,995 square metres) with 6,800 square metres of roads and hard-standing on the former landfill site.

Apparently this will be classed as a major application. The category of development is described in the following terms: "Waste management facilities exceeding 25,000 tonnes per annum capacity or more than 50 tonnes per day sludge treatment".

In the wake of the disastrous contract which Borders councillors signed in 2011 with New Earth Solutions Group, local taxpayers lost £2.4 million when Isle of Man-based funders (also now bankrupt and wound up) could not finance the deal while New Earth's technology proved unfit for purpose.

A conventional waste plant, capable of diverting 80% of Borders refuse from landfill should have been functioning by 2013 after planning permission and operating certificates were secured.

But then elected members sanctioned a contract variation to include the untested Advanced Thermal Technology. The entire project had to be abandoned in February 2015.

The papers lodged now for the waste transfer station plans state: "In August 2015 Scottish Borders Council approved plans to cease any further development of the Council's current landfill operations and build a new transfer station to direct waste out of the region for processing in line with legislation.

"With current inputs to the landfill site remaining as they are, it is anticipated that the current landfill void will run out in the summer/winter of 2017".

From January 2021, landfill sites in Scotland will no longer be able to accept biodegradable municipal waste that has not met "stringent pre-treatment processes".

The proposed transfer station is described as "a medium term solution to deal with central Borders waste (including growth) until the council complete the review of the current Waste Management Strategy to deliver a plan to meet current and future legislative targets and aspirations".

Yet so-called experts and specialists involved in procuring the contract with New Earth Solutions were warning the local authority in 2010 that to "do nothing" was not an option as the Scottish Government's waste disposal policies evolved. Six years down the line the situation in the Borders seems to remains unchanged.

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