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Galashiels pyrolysis and gasification plans scrapped

Plans for a £23m gasification and pyrolysis plant near Galashiels in Scotland have been cancelled partly because of the country’s recycling drive.

The 24-year contract for the site at Easter Langlee would have been worth £80m during its lifetime, according to Matthew Webb, commercial manager at waste management company New Earth Solutions. But councillors from Scottish Borders Council unanimously approved the termination of the contract on 19 February.

The council and New Earth have been working on the project since April 2011. They said the plans have been affected by significant changes in Scottish waste policy and regulation along with project-specific issues related to technology and funding.

Webb said new rules mandating the separate collection of food waste in Scotland meant the project would lose such feedstock in the future.

The project was also partly affected by Scotland’s “strong support for recycling” and “less focus on residual waste”.

Furthermore, waste volumes have been declining since the contract was signed, which meant New Earth Solutions had to secure more waste contracts to help with its funding.

The company could produce compost-like output at its existing plants but would not be able to use it in Scotland so the plant had to be redesigned.

Changes to guidelines on the thermal treatment of waste also caused delays.

Finally, the gas-to-engines gasification technology was supposed to be the first of its kind in Scotland and has not yet been proved on a commercial scale. Webb said this also made funding the plant more difficult.

Neither the council nor New Earth Solutions were able to address implementation issues faced by the project.

The plant would have processed 24,000 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) annually to produce around 2.9MW of electricity for the equivalent to 7,500 houses. Additionally, it would have generated 1.5-2MW of heat energy.

In the four-year period, the partnership prepared a development platform at Easter Langlee, secured planning permission and obtained a permit for mechanical treatment of waste and the production of RDF.

It also reached the latter stages of the operational permit application process.

The council will now undertake a review of its integrated waste management strategy to consider how to meet future landfill diversion, biodegradability and recycling targets of the Scottish Government and the EU.

A 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. 

Darren Stockley, managing director of New Earth Solutions, said: “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.”

David Parker, council leader, added: “I can assure Borders’ households that the current waste services provided by the council will be unaffected. We also look forward to the introduction of the food waste collection service this year, which will increase recycling and reduce waste going to landfill.”

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