Resource Use

Viridor’s East Lothian incinerator receives final approval

Plans to build an incinerator in East Lothian are to progress, after waste management company Viridor was given funding approval from parent company Pennon Group on Friday (28 November).

Viridor’s East Lothian incinerator receives final approval
Artist's impression of the Dunbar ERF

The £177-million incinerator – set to be built at Viridor’s existing rail-linked Oxwellmains waste treatment hub near Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland – is expected to burn 300,000 tonnes of residual waste to produce 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity and 10 MW of heat for local use when it comes online in December 2017.

Viridor secured planning consent for the site in December 2010, and approval from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in 2011. The company will now begin preparing for construction after receiving notification from Pennon Group that it had discharged planning conditions and approved funding for the facility.

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

‘Reducing the amount of waste going to landfill while generating energy’

Welcoming the announcement, Ian McAulay, Chief Executive of Viridor, said: “I am pleased to announce final approval for our £177-million Oxwellmains energy recovery facility project, our latest investment in Scotland’s green economy.”

He added that the company would be “announcing further information shortly” regarding the technology and construction partners, and opportunities for small businesses and local recruitment.

The decision was also welcomed by Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, who added: “This is a significant investment, which will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill while generating energy to the grid.

“The Scottish Government has always made it clear that there can be a role for energy recovery from the limited amount of residual waste as landfill is phased out. This sits alongside our internationally ambitious targets for waste prevention and recycling as part of a suite of measures to make Scotland a greener, cleaner place to live.”

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael MP, also commented, saying: “This multi-million pound announcement is good news for Scotland’s growing economy and a welcome jobs boost for East Lothian.

“The UK government’s plan for energy is to power growth and jobs as we build clean, secure electricity infrastructure for the future. This centre fits the bill and will help Scotland fulfil its enormous green energy potential powering thousands of homes, ensuring we are at the centre of the UK's low-carbon 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 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 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 Viridor’s ERF in East Lothian.