Scottish Borders council has terminated its 24-year waste treatment contract with New Earth Solutions over ‘project-specific’ technology and funding issues.
The cancellation puts an end to New Earth’s proposed 60,000 tonnes-per-year capacity gasification plant in Easter Langlee near Galashiels, which had secured planning permission and draft permitting to treat waste.
The decision not to proceed with the £80 million contract comes almost four years after New Earth was signed to pre-treat domestic and commercial residual waste on behalf of Scottish Borders in April 2011.
According to the council, ‘good progress’ had been made in that time to prepare the development of the Easter Langlee plant, which included plans for a joint energy-from-waste and mechanical biological treatment facility.
The plant, which had been due to begin operations in summer 2015, would have incorporated New Earth’s patented ‘gas-to-engine’ technology, which requires only a ‘low level’ stack compared to other forms of thermal recovery technology.
The plant had received a permit for mechanical treatment of waste and the production of refuse-derived fuel.
Then in August last year, the council admitted the facility had been pushed back to ‘at least’ 2017, with plans to ‘re-profile’ the planned capital expenditure of the project and achieve a new delivery timetable (see letsrecycle.com story).
The final blow to the project came at a meeting of Scottish Borders council held yesterday (Thursday 19) when councillors unanimously approved a private report recommending the termination of the contract.
The council stated that issues concerning funding and the technology which would have been used at the plant, as well as changes to Scottish waste policy and regulations were factors in the decision.
In January 2014, Scotland introduced new waste regulations requiring businesses to present metal, plastic, glass, paper, card and food (if producing over 50kgs per week) for separate collection (see letsrecycle.com story).
This is to be broadened to include all businesses producing 5kg of food per week from January 2016.
Commenting on the termination, Darren Stockley, managing director of New Earth, said: “New Earth was delighted to have been awarded the contract by Scottish Borders Council in 2011 and we have invested considerable resources in developing the project.
“We have worked closely with the council’s project team on delivering an innovative solution, but some of the challenges were taking too long to resolve.
Both the council and New Earth have put in considerable effort to overcome issues related to the integrated waste management facility project, but ultimately time ran out to find a resolution.
“New Earth wishes the council every success with its future plans to reduce waste, increase recycling and divert waste from landfill. New Earth remains committed to providing sustainable waste treatment services to local authorities and the commercial sector at our six operational facilities.”
Scottish Borders will now review its Integrated Waste Management Strategy to determine how it will proceed. This will include an alternative arrangement to meet the ban on biodegradable waste to landfill by 2021.
Meanwhile, the current waste services for households in the Borders will remain unaffected and the programme to introduce food waste collections to around 24,000 homes in Galashiels – including Tweedbank, Peebles, Selkirk, Jedburgh and Hawick – will still take place during 2015.
Councillor David Parker, leader of Scottish Borders council, added: “Both the council and New Earth have put in considerable effort to overcome issues related to the integrated waste management facility project, but ultimately time ran out to find a resolution.
“The council thanks New Earth for the close working relationship both organisations have had since April 2011. Despite this setback, SBC is as committed as ever to providing Borders’ residents with a waste service which meets Scottish and EU targets, and is also sustainable for many years to come. The Council’s review of its Integrated Waste Management Strategy will ensure this is the case.”