Waste plant is a step closer

A controversial waste treatment plant at Millerhill has moved closer to fruition.

Alauna Renewable Energy Ltd was this week named as preferred bidder to run a food waste facility as part of a joint ‘Zero Waste’ project by Midlothian and Edinburgh councils.

The separate procurement of a residual waste treatment contract is said to be “progressing well”, with tenders expecting to be issued to the remaining four bidders later this month.

Critics of the plan cite its close proximity to Shawfair, where a new town of 5,500 homes, schools, parks and offices is to be built.

Danderhall Community Council chairman Sam Campbell said: “Millerhill is the wrong place to put a plant of this nature. What other council in the country would put a waste plant adjacent to the proposed site for a primary school?

“My preferred site at Drummond Moor, where there is an existing landfill site, would have been better suited.”

“It seems that the community council doesn’t matter. Our views obviously don’t count because we have been walked over. It would appear to be a vendetta against us.

“Unfortunately we don’t have the power or financial resources to resist this.”

In December 2011, Midlothian Council granted planning permission for modern, efficient waste treatment facilities to be built at Millerhill.

This was despite objections from locals over the potential impact of smell and noise.

The Zero Waste plan would see rubbish from Edinburgh and Midlothian processed and the aim is to increase recycling and ‘recover’ energy from waste that is currently landfilled.

The construction of a food waste facility will begin next year, and it is estimated that works will be complete by 2015. The 20 year contract is for the design, finance, construction and operation of the facility.

Residual waste treatment services need to be operational by 2017.

Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie (SNP) this week said: “I do realise that Danderhall Community Council has opposed this site since the beginning and I recognise their concerns in regard to possible noise and smells and respect their view.

“However, I have been reassured that the site will not result in such unwelcome results and that it will fill a vital need for both Midlothian and Edinburgh Councils. Without this site they may not achieve EU recycling targets resulting in substantial fines. We are also talking about jobs.”

Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP), Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “This is the first step of the council’s vision for a Zero Waste Parc at the site. We are excited about the regeneration of derelict industrial land and the future benefits that this could bring to the local area.”

Councillor Ian Baxter (Green) said: “This is a great step forward in moving towards zero waste. Using Anaerobic Digestion to break down food waste in a controlled facility and capturing the climate damaging methane produced is far better than dumping it in the ground. We must, however, concentrate on reducing the amount of waste we produce in the first place and Greens remain implacably opposed to incineration as part of any waste treatment process.”

The details of the agreement are now being worked up with the view to signing the contract by the end of the year, subject to final council approvals.