Argyll’s rubbish could be sent out of area

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Rubbish could be sent outside Argyll and Bute for disposal when the Scottish Government landfill ban is imposed, a council official has admitted.

But it was added that the possibility of doing so was ‘hardly at the top’ of the priority list for the authority as it bids to reach net zero carbon emissions.

Peter Leckie, project manager for the council’s waste strategy review, addressed the concerns of councillors at a virtual meeting of its policy and resources committee on Thursday December 9.

The council currently sends waste from Helensburgh and Lomond to landfill in Alexandria, in West Dunbartonshire. The landfill ban is due to come in during 2025, having been pushed back from 2021.

Mid Argyll Independent Councillor Douglas Philand asked Mr Leckie about the transportation of waste when the ban starts.

Mr Leckie replied: ‘With the landfill ban coming in 2025, authorities have to move to a system of energy from waste.

‘We don’t have the facilities in Argyll and Bute and lack the tonnage required to operate an energy-from-waste system economically. So the only option is for us to send it to energy from waste plants in the central belt, which will have a huge impact.’

He added: ‘We are in discussions with the Scottish Government and looking for ways forward. We are asking for support with this transition.’

Councillor Philand then said: ‘I am thinking of lorries going into the central belt, and the carbon emissions for them. How are you going to offset that?’

Mr Leckie replied: ‘There are actions we can take, such as shredding materials, so we are looking to mitigate as many trips as possible – not only for CO2 purposes, but for overall costs.’

Kintyre and the Islands Independent Councillor Alastair Redman also voiced concerns at transporting waste out of the area and the country.

Mr Leckie said: ‘We are having to work with the facilities that we have in place. We have an area where we are in charge of our own waste and have facilities in the area.

‘In Helensburgh and Lomond we send waste to landfill in other areas. It is currently done in Alexandria.

‘When the landfill ban is enforced in 2025, we don’t have any energy-from-waste facilities in Argyll and Bute, or in immediate proximity except in the central belt.

‘So we will have to send waste to those facilities, because we lack the sufficient tonnage to maintain such a facility within Argyll and Bute. That is the position as it currently stands.’

The Scottish Government is about to embark on a review of energy from waste in Scotland.

Mr Leckie told the meeting: ‘The Scottish Government is on record as saying that it does not want waste going outside of our borders, or to energy from waste abroad.

‘But if there is insufficient national capacity we will have to look at options outside the immediate area. I would not say that is top of the list of things we are considering.’

Council services will also be encouraged to reduce their use of single-use plastic (SUP) products as confirmed by the same Policy and Resources Committee last week.

This policy is being put in place ahead of upcoming Scottish government legislation which will ban the supply and manufacture of certain types of plastic products in June 2022.

Leader Councillor Robin Currie said: ‘Changing our policy on SUP is yet another step we take at preventing waste.

‘We are now asking services to think long and hard about what they are buying and what other options are out there to replace SUP.

‘Preventing waste is better for the planet and saves public money. We can, and must, do it at home and in businesses.’