Scotgen permit revoked after series of breaches

Scotgen (Dumfries) Ltd has seen its permit to operate the Dargavel energy-from-waste plant revoked by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) following its failure to ‘comply with the requirements of the permit’.

The revocation notice, which was served on Friday (23 August), was issued for the following reasons:

  • Persistent non-compliance with the requirements of the permit;
  • Failure to comply with an enforcement notice;
  • Failure to maintain financial provision and resources to comply with the requirements of the permit; and
  • Failure to recover energy with a high level of efficiency.

According to SEPA, the revocation notice also requires Scotgen to take steps to ‘avoid pollution and to return the site to a satisfactory state. This includes a requirement for the waste to be removed.’

Ian Conroy, Technical Support Manager in the South West for SEPA, said: "Since the plant come [sic] into operation we have provided support and assistance to Scotgen (Dumfries) Limited including affording them considerable time and opportunity to demonstrate that this facility can meet the Best Available Techniques, and the specific requirements of European Directives designed to protect the environment. Unfortunately despite this, they have not done so.

"The facility started operations more than four years ago, and in that time has never achieved a level of compliance which would give SEPA any degree of confidence that future operation would be any different. The facility has consistently failed to meet any reasonable expectation of environmental performance and the predicted level of energy recovery at approximately three per cent is particularly disappointing and unsatisfactory. 

"SEPA has taken this serious and unusual action of revoking the permit following careful consideration and assessment of the regulatory options available."

No one from Scotgen was available for comment when contacted by Resource.

History of problems for Scotgen

Scotgen’s Dargavel site lays claim to being ‘Europe’s most advanced Waste-to-Energy facility’. It was the first Scottish plant of its kind when it opened in 2009, utilising a combination of pyrolysis and gasification to treat up to 20,000 tonnes of waste per year.

However, on 18 July this year a blaze broke out at the site, requiring more than 30 firefighters to bring it under control. It has also been issued with an enforcement notice (referred to in the above revocation notice) after it was found that the site emitted more cancer-causing dioxins than permitted in October 2012.

Scotgen is also under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a "pipe burst" at the Dargavel plant in August last year which damaged nearby pipework and a roof. 

It is entitled to appeal against the recent revocation notice, which would mean that it would be permitted to continue operations until the appeal has been decided.

Read more about Scotgen (Dumfries) Ltd.