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FCC preferred bidder for Edinburgh and Midlothian contract

Waste management company FCC Medio Ambiente SA (FCC) has been chosen as the preferred bidder for Edinburgh and Midlothian councils’ residual waste contract.

The Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian waste partnership announced this week that FCC had been chosen as preferred bidder (over competitor Viridor) to design, construct, finance and operate an energy-from-waste (EfW) facility to process up to 150,000 tonnes of mixed residual waste (from both municipal and commercial and industry waste) that would otherwise go to landfill.

FCC has not yet revealed the kind of technologies being proposed for the EfW plant, though it is expected that the facility will deliver 13 megawatts of electricity and potentially provide heat for use in local district heating.

Councillor Jim Bryant, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Midlothian Council, commented: “FCC’s proposal offers a local solution that will benefit both partner councils equally. I am delighted with the economic benefits and opportunities which the regeneration of this brownfield site presents and I will be particularly keen to see FCC develop a local heat network that can link into some of the other exciting projects that are set to transform this area.”

FCC has said it expects to invest over £144 million to develop the treatment facilities.

Paul Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the UK branch of the firm, FCC Environment, said: “The decision, made by Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian reflects the confidence of the authorities in the technical capabilities and track record of FCC delivering major infrastructure projects and will consolidate its leadership position in the UK as recycling and green energy recovery player."

Helping to reach 95 per cent diversion target

FCC preferred bidder for Edinburgh and Midlothian contract
Artist's impression of FCC's energy-from-waste facility

Planning Permission in Principle (PPiP) was granted in December 2011 for a range of waste treatment facilities (anaerobic digestion, mechanical/biological treatment, mechanical heat treatment, energy from waste, combined heat and power, and a visitor centre) at the Zero Waste Parc, but FCC will now hold a series of public engagement events in the local area before submitting a detailed planning application for its EfW plant.

However, the joint partners have said the details of the 25-year agreement are now being worked up, with view to signing the contract in ‘the middle of next year’.

If all goes ahead as planned, the partners said FCC could be operating the facility at the Zero Waste Parc (Prevention and Recycling Centre) site next to the Millerhill Marshalling Yard in Midlothian by 2018. The site will also host Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian’s new anaerobic digestion (AD) facility (currently being built by Alauna Renewable Energy), which will be capable of processing approximately 30,000 tonnes of food waste a year into biogas for energy production.

It is hoped that the EfW facility and the AD plant will help the authorities reach the Scottish Government’s 70 per cent recycling target by 2025 and the national landfill diversion target of 95 per cent by 2025.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Convener for City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This is a key part of our long-term strategy on the journey to drive down landfill waste. Our priority is to encourage the public to cut down on waste and to fully engage in recycling. This facility will ensure that any waste remaining after recyclable materials have been separated out will be treated as a resource and no longer disposed of in a landfill site.”

Colin Paterson, Scottish Regional Managing Director for Viridor, said that the company was “deeply disappointed” not to have been selected as preferred bidder, but added that both the City of Edinburgh Council and Midlothian Councils “remain important recycling and resources partners for Viridor”.

He wished the residual waste project “every success”.

Energy-from-waste overcapacity

Despite the growing number of EfW facilities – such as incinerators – being built in the UK, the need for them has come under scrutiny recently, with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) withdrawing funding from several recovery projects over the last year, after finding that the 29 EfW projects that already have government funding are ‘sufficient’ to meet the EU’s 2020 landfill diversion targets.

Further to this, waste consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting warned last week that due to the amount of energy recovery facilities being built, the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity will exceed supply in 2017/18.

This, it argued, could lead to a situation of potential overcapacity in 2018/19 of around 2.5 million tonnes. It is estimated that this could eventually result in overcapacity of 16.4 million tonnes in 2030/31, restricting the UK’s recycling rate to 66 per cent.

Find out more about the Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian project.

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