Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Public Meeting in Invergordon

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I would like to explain the stance that the Green Party is taking on the issue of the Incinerator at Invergordon.

Last year the Green Party registered an objection to the proposed incinerator.  We objected to the proposal on the following grounds:

  • The adverse Environmental effects.
  • The arrangements put in place for the use of the heat and power generated from the incinerator.
  • The basic premise of using waste as an energy source.

Firstly, I would like to summarise number one, the adverse environmental effects — these include:

  • polluting emissions;
  • toxic waste and ash;
  • toxic compounds such as dioxins — no method of monitoring of emissions is guaranteed or failsafe.

Other speakers will discuss the health and environmental issues in more detail.

Other adverse effects include the local large numbers of lorries required to transport the waste to the proposed facility and the social impact in terms of noise and vehicle pollution and increased congestion.

It should also be stressed here that at a time when Invergordon is shaking off its post-industrial image this does not seem to be the sort of development to enhance the town.

We do not wish to see Invergordon dubbed “the waste incineration capital of the north”.

Secondly, the developer proposes that the plant will produce, by the incineration of waste, both electricity which can be fed into the grid and heat which can be used for local district heating schemes.

However, this is a private company who propose to run the scheme themselves.  Their ethos is likely to be very different from that of a community company.  Existing schemes in Lerwick and Wick are based on retro-fitting the heating system to existing houses to help tackle fuel poverty, whereas the developers in this case have a preference for installing heating in new houses and commercial premises.  We would ask the questions:

  • Which new houses?
  • Where are they?
  • Have they got planning permission?
  • Do they exist?

With a declared lifespan of 25 years, this production of electricity may end after the 25 year cycle!  We remain unconvinced that district heating in private hands is a good idea or that the company has an adequately thought-out exit strategy.

There is also the question of the regulation of energy costs — how would the price of heating be regulated?

Thirdly, the waste-to-energy philosophy is a cul-de-sac.  Waste is NOT a renewable resource as the materials burnt to give most heat, such as plastics, are from non-renewable oil.  We are being left behind — where other countries develop their recycling facilities we continue to tip our waste into the ground or burn it in furnaces.

The building of this incineration plant may well act as a disincentive to recycling facilities; in fact the plant will require large amounts of waste to fuel it, risking the danger that local authorities will cut their kerbside recycling facilities and shut down their waste management programmes.  And Invergordon is a port — if they are short of fuel (rubbish) for their incinerators, who is to say they will not begin to import waste from other countries?  This would be disastrous.

Richard Lochhead, the cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, made it clear that his government were opposed to large inefficient energy from waste plants by stating:

“Such plants could easily become White Elephants.  They will require excessive transportation of waste and could also crowd out recycling and waste prevention.”

We believe that incineration discourages the advancement of other cleaner, greener and more efficient technologies and is a short-term approach and a failure of imagination.

The reasons above are the reasons for our objection to the proposed plant.

Our belief is that the current levels of recycling can be improved and that the way forward is waste minimisation, and aspiring to a zero waste society.

Are there solutions?

Zero Waste strategy means new jobs, opportunities for community owned enterprise, contributing to sustainable local economies.  We should be rethinking waste as a resource.  The “throw it in the bin and burn it” philosophy is very capital intensive (Large scale incinerators can cost £100million), whereas the expansion of re-use and recycling facilities are cheaper, are job-intensive as opposed to capital intensiveand can offer employment in deprived areas.

Statistic: £600 of recycled goods can be created from the tonne of waste which makes £26 of electricity through an incinerator.

What can we do?

At the heart of Green Party policies, there are essentially 6 terms beginning with “R”:  Redesign, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish and Recycle.

  • Redesign products as far as possible to be biodegradable
  • Reduce Waste by composting and reducing packaging
  • Repair and Reuse where possible
  • Refurbish instead of discarding
  • Recycle on a larger scale than now

However, there has to be political will to set environmental targets:

In a Green Economy, waste would be designed out of the system.  Products should be easily reused and recycled.  We would extend community recycling and re-use projects (a good example is the GREAN project — GREAN is the biggest non-public sector employer in Golspie.  This would create local jobs in recycling and refurbishing projects and give communities better access to resources that would otherwise be wasted.

The Green MSP Robin Harper recently introduced an amendment to the national waste strategy in the Scottish Parliament:

The Green amendment, which was passed, read:

Waste Incineration Leaflet here.

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