Resource Use

Construction begins on Dunbar incinerator

Waste management company Viridor has marked the start of construction of its new £177-million incinerator in East Lothian, Scotland.

The energy-from-waste (EfW) plant will be based at Viridor's existing rail-linked Oxwellmains waste treatment hub in Dunbar. The construction programme is set to take 36 months and the facility is due for completion in 2017.

Once operational, the incinerator will burn approximately 300,000 tonnes of waste per annum to generate 30 megawatts (MW) of energy for the National Grid and will offer up to 10MW of heat for local use per annum.  

Viridor secured planning permission for the site from Scottish Ministers in December 2010, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) IN 2011 and was given final approval for the project in 2014.

According to the waste management company, the facility will create 350 construction jobs and 55 full-time jobs once operational.

The plant forms part of a £500-million Scottish investment in ‘next generation’ recycling and waste management that has so far gained Dunbar the title of Scotland’s first ‘Zero Waste’ town.

Incinerator could power 39,000 homes

Artist's impression of the Dunbar incinerator

Ian McAulay, Viridor CEO and Pennon Group Director, said: “Part of a £357m Scottish recycling and energy investment programme committed within the last eighteen months, this project will transform[ing] waste that would otherwise have been consigned to landfill into vital renewable energy for 39,000 Scottish homes.

“Scotland has a bold vision to build a more sustainable nation, with strong leadership from the Scottish Government enabling investment in the green economy.”

Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, attended an event on Friday (24 July) to mark the beginning of the construction process. He commented: “We have seen a significant, sustained decrease in the amount of waste being sent to landfill – falling from 7.4 million tonnes in 2007 to 4.5 million tonnes in 2012.

“While Scotland is focused on moving towards a more circular economy, where goods are kept in high value use for as long as possible, there will still be a role for energy recovery for the limited amount of waste that cannot be prevented, reused or recycled.  I am pleased to welcome this significant investment in Scotland’s waste infrastructure and its benefits for jobs and the local economy.”

Waste treatment overcapacity

Despite the warm welcome from government officials, the growing number of incinerators in the UK 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 residual waste treatment projects that already have funding are ‘sufficient’ to meet the EU’s 2020 landfill diversion targets.

Further to this, waste consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting has warned that due to the amount of energy recovery facilities being built, the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity will exceed supply in 2019 and could limit the UK’s recycling rate to 66 per cent.

Find out more about the Dunbar EfW plant.

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