SNP-Greens government to block approval of new waste incinerators
NO NEW bids for waste incinerators should be allowed, said the Scottish Government Minister responsible for waste reduction.
Greens Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater told MSPs that her government would implement all 12 recommendations of an independent review of waste incineration by waste expert Dr Colin Church.
Dr Church examined the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy, making 12 recommendations, including a cap on the use of incineration as a disposal method.
Up to ten new incinerators are in the planning stage or are due to enter service in the next few years.
These new incinerators could create the capacity to burn an additional 1.5 million tonnes of waste in Scotland, while the amount of waste burned has increased by more than 800,000 tonnes since 2011.
Ms Slater said: “Reducing waste and recycling what we produce is key to tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity and ensuring we all benefit from a healthy environment.
“That’s why we are taking steps to create a circular economy, where materials are used for as long as possible and precious natural resources are not wasted.
“We also need to ensure that we manage unavoidable and non-recyclable waste in the short term.”
She added: “By putting in place sensible measures to limit and phase out Scotland’s incineration capacity, we can ensure we can manage our waste today, while ensuring that our future waste infrastructure aligns with our climate goals.
“I look forward to working with local authorities and industry to take these recommendations forward.”
She said there would be “very limited exceptions” to the ban on new municipal incinerators.
But opposition MSPs have urged her to go further in cutting existing incineration capacity, with the Tories saying Scotland risks being the ‘ashtray of Europe’.
Tory MP Maurice Golden said: ‘Incineration should be a last resort, but today’s statement confirms it is business as usual for burning waste.
‘This is a missed opportunity and the Minister has done the bare minimum on incineration, refusing further planning permission, but happy with the massive overcapacity already approved to move forward.’
He said the government had failed to heed warnings about incineration and that waste from abroad could be imported to supply the overcapacity of Scottish incinerators.
Mr Golden said: ‘Not content with being the ashtray of Europe, they could also turn us into the dumping ground of Europe.’
Last year the Scottish Greens were accused of ‘acting like bureaucrats and listening to their SNP bosses’ after they failed to propose a moratorium on shutting down large-scale waste incinerators despite being listed in the party manifesto.
The party’s manifesto for the Holyrood election last year pledged to ‘oppose the building of new incinerators as they ease pressure to reduce waste, cause air pollution and are bad for the climate”.
But instead, Greens Minister for the Circular Economy Lorna Slater initially ordered an independent review of the practice, short of an immediate moratorium.
Environmental activists have welcomed the Scottish government’s commitment.
Kim Pratt, circular economy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s ban on new incinerators is very welcome news and should mark the beginning of the end for these polluting projects that are keeping us from to send valuable resources up in smoke.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government acts now to tackle the impact of our existing incinerators, given their enormous climate pollution.
“Reducing the amount of plastic waste burned is the only viable option to reduce emissions from existing factories. Carbon capture and storage is totally unsuitable for incineration because it is technically difficult, extremely expensive and locks us into a polluting.
“Scotland will have more capacity than there is waste to burn by 2027 because of these plants already in the works. Investors and incinerator operators now have the choice to invest in an economy circular for Scotland or burn that future.”