The risky and untried gasification and pyrolysis technologies which Borders councillors sanctioned for a failed waste treatment project are synonymous with bankruptcies and broken promises, according to evidence assembled by a national network which campaigns against incineration of refuse.
A damning briefing note from the United Kingdom Without Incineration Network [UKWIN] includes a section dedicated to the now defunct New Earth Solutions Group whose management presided over several failed schemes linked to their useless so-called NEAT technology.
According to UKWIN, investigations and Freedom of Information revelations following the collapse of Scottish Borders Council's multi-million pound contract with New Earth make it clear the local authority should never have relied on the company's unproven gasification system to treat the region's waste.
The briefing note says: "The failed Easter Langlee gasification project cost Scottish Borders Council at least £2.4 million with nothing to show for it".
UKWIN's document entitled GASIFICATION FAILURES IN THE UK: BANKRUPTCIES AND ABANDONMENT catalogues a whole list of failed projects throughout the length and breadth of the country. The money wasted by public bodies and private companies must run into many billions of pounds.
In the case of New Earth Solutions, Easter Langlee was just one of four abandoned gasification projects, the others had been planned for Merseyside, Dorset and Kent. And yet elected members on Scottish Borders Council were convinced the misfiring, incompetent system would make them the leading waste management authority in Scotland, devoting millions of pounds of public money to a spectacular failure.
By June 2016 New Earth Group had entered administration with huge debts and no prospect of repayment. Within a matter of weeks the closely linked offshore investment fund - New Earth Recycling & Renewables [Infrastructure] PLC - which was supposed to finance the £21 million Borders venture, plunged into liquidation.
UKWIN is an organisation with around 100 campaign groups opposed to waste incineration. The network has built up a detailed overview of the gasification and pyrolysis sector with intimate and detailed knowledge of numerous incineration proposals and waste companies.
Shlomo Dowen, National Coordinator of UKWIN, commented: “Promoters of gasification and pyrolysis schemes often cite existing and past projects to bolster support for their new proposals, but don’t like to mention that those other projects were actually embarrassing failures.
"Gasification and pyrolysis is an expensive misstep when it comes to waste management, because even if someone ever manages to get the ill-fated technology to work it would still have all of the problems of more conventional waste incineration. As with all forms of incineration, these technologies would result in shocking levels of CO2 being released and would rely upon destroying valuable material that should be recycled, composted or re-used”.
UKWIN argues that because companies do not like to talk about their failures it is often hard to find out what went wrong. They cite the Air Products debacle on Tees-side which is said to have cost the company $1 billion before that brand of so-called Advanced Thermal Technology was abandoned.
The full briefing note can be read on UKWIN's website at: