Waste not want not in £100 million Midlothian plan to heat new homes

Environment leaders from the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils pictured at FCC Environmental plant in Millerhill earlier this year.
Environment leaders from the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils pictured at FCC Environmental plant in Millerhill earlier this year.

A £100 million project which will see thousands of homes in a new town heated by a local ‘energy from waste’ site has been launched in Midlothian.

Midlothian Council has started the search for an energy partner which can help the local authority develop projects across its communities over the next 25 to 40 years.

Its first project will be to create a local heating network for the new Shawfair town development using energy produced by the nearby Millerhill Energy from Waste (EfW) Plant. And it will aim to use the energy produced by the £164m local plant to ensure cheaper heating is offered to local residents.

Among its main objectives for the new energy firm is to “help alleviate fuel poverty, particularly amongst tenants of social housing, and ensure lower energy costs than other available tariffs.”

The council anticipates heating up to 3,000 homes along with a new school and council building, alongside a  top-up/ back-up energy centre. Part of the project will need to be in place by September 2021 to ensure the local authority meets funding conditions applied to its plans.

The search for an energy partner is expected to see Midlothian Council create a jointly owned Energy Services Company (ESCo). Other partners named in the joint documents issued by the council as its puts the contract out to tender are the City of Edinburgh Council, East Lothian Council, University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University, Scottish Enterprise and NHS Lothian.

All of the partners are expected to be involved in some of the projects and they may buy energy produced by the new company once it is established.

Midlothian Council launched the search for an energy partner just months after the £164m Millerhill EfW became fully operational. Millerhill was a jointly funded waste centre which takes waste from surrounding areas and converts it into energy.

Midlothian Council said plans to harness the energy and use it for local projects would be developed under the new ESCo.

It said: “The first project likely to be progressed is the development, delivery and operation of a top up/back-up energy centre and associated district heating network to serve the emerging Shawfair town of at least 1,885 but up to 2, 950 homes plus associated council buildings such as a new school.

“The primary heat source identified for the initial projects is the EfW plant at Millherill.”

The deadline for bids to become the new partner was last Wednesday and the council is currently looking at the tenders submitted.