Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Waste Incineration by the Back Door?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Highlands and Islands Greens have today criticised the Highland Council for using its budget cuts consultation exercise to usher-in waste incineration by the back-door.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s target to ensure that no resources with a value for reuse or recycling are sent to landfill by 2020.  Reaching this target will be challenging but we need to do this in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. [4]

“But the Council’s current budget consultation contains clear evidence that the SNP/Labour/Lib.Dem Councillors are set on giving the green-light to waste incineration, with all that that entails in terms of unwanted and unnecessary emissions, and the death of recycling [3] in the Highlands” said Neil Hornsby, Highlands and Islands Green Party’s Campaigns Co-ordinator.

“SNP Cllr. Fallows is reported as having publicly stated that everyone needs to think about what we do with our waste in future.  We welcome that statement.  But the only examples of what he thinks might be done comprise converting waste into fuels or electricity.  Why does he focus on just these processes which may well involve incineration?

“The Council’s action is a serious and dangerous development.  Unless there is a major public objection to Cllr. Fallow’s ideas, the Council may bring in waste incineration, claiming public support though its cuts-consultation exercise.  Such a move would be highly undemocratic, particularly as the Council’s recently published ‘Working Together For The Highlands 2012-2017’ work programme says nothing at all about waste incineration.

“It is good to hear that Cllr. Fallows and his Cllr. colleagues are concerned to reduce waste management costs, but they should put these concerns into practice by instigating a comprehensive and public review of the Council’s waste management policies and practises, rather than through this disappointing, piece-meal, and back-door approach.


1. We understand* that Cllr. Fallows has said:

“We also need to think about what we do with our waste in the future, so I would like to know whether the public would be supportive of introducing local waste treatment facilities which would see more waste treated within the Highlands.

Examples are:

  • Treatment facilities which remove recycling waste and turn the residual waste into fuel.
  • Treatment facilities which remove recyclable waste and use the residual waste to provide hot waste and electricity.
  • Treatment facilities which remove recyclable waste and then convert the residual waste into bio-fuels.”

* See: www.highland.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/newsreleases/2012/October/2012-10-23-01.htm

2. We consider that Cllr. Fallows has rightly drawn attention to the importance of reducing the production of waste in the first place.  But this is exactly what the Highland Greens proposed to the Council during the 2010 budget cuts exercise.  As supermarket packaging is a prime source of much household waste, we proposed that the Council invite all the major supermarkets operating in the Highland to contribute significant sums towards the Council’s waste management costs.  The Council would have none of this; Lib.Dem Cllr. Alston rejected our constructive proposal out–of-hand, within two hours of receiving it.

3. For waste processes to be economic, local authorities are contractually obliged to provide set volumes of waste, which can therefore seriously undermine their own recycling programmes and rates.

4. The Scottish Green Party’s waste management policy is based on a hierarchy of six principles: redesign, reduce, re-use, repair, refurbish and recycle.