A planning application by Scotgen has inflamed passions in South Lanarkshire. The proposal to build in a greenbelt site a waste sorting facility and materials recovery plant, which includes an energy-from-waste facility using gasification technology (referred to widely by objectors as a “toxic waste incinerator”), has received over 20,000 objections – greater than the population of Larkhall, the nearest town.
I’m claiming this as a world record for Scotland. Let us know if you’ve ever heard of a higher level of objection to any other planning application.
This shows the degree of sensitivity to new waste facilities, and energy-from-waste facilities in particular. The proposal for a 30-metre-high asphalt plant at a neighbouring (albeit brownfield) site last year was approved with no objections at all.
It’s always going to be difficult for developers to persuade the public on waste proposals. Scottish Planning Policy indicates that a “significant increase in waste management infrastructure” is required to ensure we can move away from landfill, both to meet domestic and European targets, and to escape its increasing cost. How much new infrastructure is required, of what type, and when, will depend on how successful we are as a country in reducing waste and in its segregation at source. At the beginning of this year, Audit Scotland indicated that local authorities did not have sufficient plans in place to meet the targets as they were then. Since it can take about three years to get an energy-from-waste plant through the planning system, there may be a limited supply of the necessary waste management facilities as we go forward – and so rich rewards for a developer who gets the right infrastructure in place.
On October 8, 2010