Scottish government calls for evidence on waste incineration

The Scottish government has launched a public consultation as part of a review of incineration capacity in Scotland, after a three-month delay.

Colin Church, chief executive of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, is leading the review. He is expected to report back to Scottish ministers by Easter next year.

Local authorities must notify Scottish ministers of any applications or decisions involving incineration pending his report.

Church said he had been asked to consider “how emissions from existing incinerators can be reduced and residual heat may be reused; and consider the societal impacts of residual waste treatment, including health and community impacts”.

In August this year, the Scottish Greens agreed to support the governing Scottish National Party, with its two leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie joining the government. 

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections in May, the Scottish Green Party had included a promise in its manifesto to “oppose the construction of new incinerators”. The party also said it would replace landfill tax with a “local waste disposal tax to disincentivise incineration and waste exports”.

The Scottish government had already committed in June to reviewing the role of energy-from-waste (EfW) by September, leading campaigners to hope that Scotland could follow Wales, which introduced a moratorium banning the construction of new large-scale incinerators in March.  

However, in October Slater said a review would start with a call for evidence “in November”.

At the time, Friends of the Earth Scotland said that because the review does not include a moratorium while it is conducted, there was the risk of a rush of applications before new rules enter force.

Last week, Scotland’s chief planner ordered local authorities to inform ministers of applications during the review. 

“This direction does not commit Scottish ministers to calling in any such application, but it does reserve their right to intervene in the processing of the application,” he said.