Waste treatment plant a step closer

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Proposals to build a controversial waste treatment plant next to a Lothians village have moved a step closer – despite considerable opposition.

Midlothian Council has agreed planning permission in principle for a recycling facility near Millerhill.

It is part of Zero Waste – a joint campaign between Midlothian and Edinburgh councils – which aims to slash the amount of waste being sent to landfill.

But concerns have been raised over smells, noise and even health risks.

Some residents fear the value of their home could plummet if the plant – which would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week – goes ahead.

Sandra Mackie, 48, a part-time lecturer who lives at nearby Woolmet Village, said: “People are afraid their house prices are going to be affected and there’s the wildlife as well – we’re going to lose quite a large area of wood.

“The road isn’t going to be able to withstand the traffic.

“Also, they’re not being entirely honest about what’s going to happen at the top of the bing – people are worried it’s going to be used as a dump.

“It’s like we’re being put through an experiment and no-one knows if it is going to work.”

Danderhall and District Community Council objected to the application because of the effect it may have on a massive new development at nearby Shawfair, where 3990 homes are to be built.

Chairman Sam Campbell said: “We wanted to be represented at the planning meeting, but the council decided we should not be heard.

“What does it mean if they will not listen to the voice of the people? The decision is disappointing, and the fact they took it without reference to us is disturbing.”

Welcoming the news, project director Gordon Pollock said: “This is a major step in making sure we can deliver modern and sustainable waste treatment for the people of Edinburgh and Midlothian.

“The site at Millerhill is ideal for a number of reasons and the work and research undertaken to prove this has paid off.”

The facility would have the capacity to treat 230,000 tonnes of waste per annum. A visitor centre is also planned.

Councillor Robert Aldridge, environment leader at the city council, said: “The decision helps to create a new era in management of waste.

“We will be treating all waste as a resource, as it should be.”

Alastair Young, associate director at Scottish Futures Trust, said: “This important milestone in gaining planning permission in principle will provide a sound platform for current and future waste infrastructure projects.”