Scotland lays foundations for potential EfW ‘moratorium’

Government asks to be informed of any current and new energy recovery planning applications as it looks to follow Wales' moratorium, which was recently branded "unlawful".

An artist's impression of Viridor's Overwood EfW plant

The Scottish government has told local authorities to inform it of any current or new planning applications for energy-from-waste plants as it mulls a potential moratorium. 

In a statement issued yesterday, Scotland’s circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “To make sure that any plans are closely monitored while the review is ongoing, we have issued a temporary notification direction. 

“This will ensure that ministers are abreast of any new planning applications or planning decisions relating to incinerators. It is temporary and does not in any way pre-empt the outcome of the review.”

The move comes after Welsh EfW plant developer Broad Energy branded a moratorium introduced by the Welsh government earlier this year as “unlawful”. It also questioned why it allowed smaller plants but opposed one large facility.  

In questions after her statement, Slater also confirmed the government should “be notified of any applications that [local authorities are] minded to approve, so this includes current planning applications”.

As part of the review the government has brought in waste expert Dr Colin Church, who will be the “independent chair of the review”, which will focus on energy recovery and the waste hierarchy in Scotland, according to the statement. 

The need to tell the government was announced after plans for a review of energy recovery capacity in Scotland was shunted back last month. At that point Slater explained that a call for evidence would be launched this month with the review itself due to run between December and spring next year.

NGO Zero Waste Europe policy and development coordinator, Janek Vahk, said: “ZWE welcomes the announcement that the Scottish government’s incineration review will include a moratorium on all current and new waste incineration applications. 

“This is a much-needed step to turn around the current rush to incineration and move towards a more sustainable management of residual waste in line with the climate and circular economy agenda. Regardless of this moratorium, ZWE calls for a permanent ban on waste incineration.”

The move could be a problem for EfW plant developer and operator Viridor, who announced plans for a facility in Overwood earlier this year. Viridor declined to comment. 

Scotland-based waste firm Barr also lodged plans for a new EfW facility over the summer, which could also be hit by the review. Barr was unable to respond at the time of publishing. 

The government also announced £70m (€83.3m) for recycling initiatives across Scotland, as part of the same package.

A version of this story first appeared on ENDS Report’s sister site, ENDS Waste & Bioenergy