The Princess carried out the ceremony on December 28 2007, three days after her 71st birthday, in the presence of Ivor Hyslop, leader of Dumfries and Galloway council and Tom Drury, group chief executive of Shanks. Princess Alexandra toured the facility before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
Cllr Hyslop said: “This was a memorable day and a fitting way to mark the conclusion of this important phase of the waste strategy. We have pledged to make Dumfries and Galloway cleaner and greener and this is a vital part of that pledge. Plants like this can help lessen the need for landfill, but unless every one of us makes an effort to reduce the amount of waste we create our environment will be the loser.
“We will be launching a series of initiatives across Dumfries and Galloway next year to inform the public of our waste strategy and to fulfil our aim of making this beautiful corner of Scotland one of the greenest and cleanest places to live.”
Before construction of the plant, Dumfries and Galloway was the worst recycling authority in Scotland at about 10%. Now with the plant, which uses Ecodeco mechanical biological treatment technology from Italy, the council has reached a 31.5% rate.
Dumfries and Galloway Council signed a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) with Shanks Dumfries & Galloway (SD&G) on November 26 2004.
Then the council explained: “This agreement means that all council collected waste in the region will be delivered to PFI contract agreed sites for treatment and disposal below the landfill diversion limits outlined in the EU Landfill directive. Household waste is currently sent to our transfer stations for segregation and onward transfer to recycling processors or sent to the Ecodeco or Galdenoch Composting Facility.
“SD&G will undertake the capping and restoration of Locharmoss and the remaining inert landfill sites at Gatelawbridge, Corsehill, St Mary's Street and Blacks Plantation. They have also build two waste treatment facilities at Galdenoch near Stranraer and at Locharmoss near Dumfries.”
To finance the project the council secured funding from the Scottish Executive Strategic Waste Fund, to pay SD&G a unitary charge for each tonne of waste delivered to the sites within the PFI agreement.
Commenting about the plant ahead of the opening, Alastair Speedie, group manager strategic planning and transportation for the council, said that a major benefit of the plant was that only “one dirty bin” has to be picked up weekly. This is because the plant sorts the material and collects some of it for recycling and composting.
Dumfries and Galloway added: “The MBT technology is proven, robust and is widely used in continental Europe and the USA. The specific process selected uses the ‘BioCubi' natural fermentation process. This patented process reduces the moisture content of the waste under computer controlled conditions and promotes some aerobic biological degradation. Its significant effect is to dry and stabilise the waste, considerably reducing its mass.
Unsorted waste is delivered to the plant, shredded and has air passed through to dry it out – water represents about 30% of the weight of the material. It then passes through magnets and metals are removed. Final material is either composted or incinerated for energy recovery.
Shanks local general manager Andy Carey said in December 2007 that 65,000 tonnes of year would now go through the plant and while there was some reject material, only about 8,000 tonnes would go to landfill. The facility became operational early in 2007.
In November 2007 Shanks reported some difficulties with outlets for the fuel material produced in Dumfries.
In its interim financial statement for the six months to September 30 2007 the company noted: “There continues to be significant interest from the cement and other energy intensive industries in the Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) produced by the MBT process. Deliveries of SRF are increasing despite a temporary interruption of inputs to a cement kiln in North Wales following a problem at the plant unrelated to the processing of SRF. This has resulted in an increase in disposal costs for our D&G contract, but it is expected that the kiln will be functioning again by the start of our next financial year.”