Green group fears over Dunbar waste incinerator

An artist's impression of the Viridor facility. Picture: comp
An artist's impression of the Viridor facility. Picture: comp
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Green crusaders have lashed out at a major new £177 million waste incinerator plant set to be built near Dunbar.

Environmental campaigners slammed the huge Viridor facility – due to be completed in December 2017 – and warned residents could be exposed to “harmful emissions” if the plans go ahead.

The waste-to-energy plant received final approval to be built at the Oxwellmains waste treatment hub in East Lothian yesterday, with energy bosses claiming the project could boost the local economy by more than £10 million a year.

But Green Party figures claim the site – which is set to burn rubbish from all over Scotland – will waste heat and churn out noxious fumes into the atmosphere.

East Lothian Greens campaigner Jason Rose said the party was among many groups who objected when the development was proposed in 2009.

He said: “We know that similar plants have suffered failures, leading to sanctions from regulators, and we know it will rely on plastics which when burnt have particularly harmful emissions. This plant will generate heat only for it to be wasted.

“We also know similar plants have a history of odour complaints. What is Viridor’s plan to prevent Dunbar suffering the same fate? This development isn’t green, isn’t low carbon and contradicts the idea of zero waste – instead it will create demand for waste. It’s extremely disappointing to see the Scottish and UK governments welcoming it.”

But Viridor bosses hit back at the criticism, insisting they were “fully committed” to maximising renewable energy potential.

A spokesman for the company said: “Scotland has world-leading ambitions in terms of delivering a zero waste economy. We won’t be able to achieve those without enhanced recycling and energy recovery to sustainably manage the proportion of post-recycling material which in the future will be banned from landfill.”

The company also denied the new plant would create a demand for waste and crowd out longer-term recycling goals, pointing to countries like Norway and Sweden which combine high levels of recycling with waste incinerator plants.

And responding to the suggestion that the plant would rely on burning plastics, the spokesman said: “The plant will only accept post-recyclable material – material that can’t be recycled – and will operate to the highest national and international standards, stringently regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.”

Dunbar community councillor Stephen Bunyan said residents were divided over the new incinerator.

He said: “I have mixed feelings. Obviously, it has now become an accepted proposal which has useful implications for Dunbar. I think we certainly need jobs, but I know that some people in Dunbar are not desperately happy about it.”