Argyll and Bute waste cost concerns

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Measures to ban landfill waste could force Argyll and Bute Council to seek more financial help from the Scottish Government, a report has warned.

A ban on sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill sites under the Waste Regulations (Scotland) Act had been scheduled for January 2021, but has now been pushed back to January 2025.

Disposal of rubbish via Energy from Waste [EfW], which involves the processing of rubbish to create a source of fuel or generate electricity or heat, will be encouraged instead.

But a report for a short-life council action group set up to co-ordinate the authority’s climate change efforts has stated that Argyll and Bute faces ‘a unique set of challenges’ in moving away from the use of landfill sites.

These include separate waste contracts between Helensburgh and Lomond and the rest of the area, increased revenue costs, and the impact on ferry capacity as a result of transferring rubbish for EfW use.

Kirsty Flanagan, the council’s interim executive director for development and infrastructure, said in the report: ‘The council recognises the serious global impacts of climate change and is committed to reducing the environmental impact of the council and its residents.

‘The council fully supports the goals and objectives of the Scottish Government’s policy of a ban on the disposal of biodegradable municipal waste in landfill.

‘The council accepts and endorses that increased waste reduction, reuse and recycling is critical to achieving the Scottish Government’s 2045 target of a net zero carbon economy.

‘Changing the council waste disposal methodology with a move away from landfill to EfW is extremely challenging for every local authority.

‘However, Argyll and Bute faces a unique set of circumstances that disproportionally increase this cost challenge of landfill ban compliance.’

Ms Flanagan added: ‘Changing waste disposal methods from landfill by 2025 to EfW does have significant benefit to our local and national environmental performance.

‘The council’s assessment of the costs of compliance with the biodegradable municipal waste ban shows that there will be a significant increase in revenue costs.

‘Depending on the solutions that are put in place the range of cost increase could be between £3.6 million and £6 million per annum.

‘There is also a significant capital cost requirement to support the necessary transition to ban compliance of around £2 million to £3 million.

‘Argyll and Bute Council remains committed to complying fully with the ban ahead of the 2025 commencement date.

‘However, due to the disproportionate challenge the council faces due to our rural/island geography and our existing contractual commitments to the Waste PPP agreement we require a mixture of practical and financial support from the Scottish Government to achieve this transition and secure a significant reduction in CO2e [carbon dioxide equivalent] generation.’