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Highly contested Fife incinerator approved

Councillors have approved Brockwell Energy’s controversial plans to build an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant near Kirkcaldy in Scotland.

Fife Council’s Central Area Planning Committee approved the company’s proposals for the 250,000-tonne a year incinerator on the site of Westfield opencast coal mine.

Four local community councils objected to the proposals, as did 35 separate letters, with concerns including fumes, pollution and impact on health.

But planning officers recommended the scheme for approval, saying it would ”assist in achieving renewable energy generation and zero waste targets at both council and national level”.

“The proposal, with suitable mitigation measures included such as screen planting and acoustic barriers, in conjunction with construction works and operational procedures in place, would protect residential amenity and would be compatible with surrounding land uses,” said officers.

‘Further to this, the proposal would also have to comply with other legislative restrictions regarding pollution and odour prevention.”

Planners said that an environmental statement submitted alongside planning documents stated that a sufficiently high stack would be used to disperse emissions to ensure that concentration of pollutants reaching ground level would be ”sufficiently low to not cause nuisance, health problems or significant impacts on protected ecological habitats”.

The facility will be fuelled by residual non-hazardous waste or refuse-derived fuel. Electricity generated will be exported to the grid or transmitted directly to consumers within the wider Westfield site.

It would have an installed electricity generating capacity of 23.7MW and a net export capacity of 21.5MW. It will also be configured to enable steam to be used as a source of heat, as and when there are occupiers on the Westfield site creating demand.

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, called for ministers to take control of the EfW agenda.

“In the past few years, Scotland has seen a rush to build EfW facilities, and this has exposed our wholly inadequate planning guidance and energy policy,” he said.

“I’ve met the environment secretary and energy minister, and written to officials multiple times, but the Government still has not produced a long-term plan for managing incineration in Scotland. The pace of construction is not based on future demand but by companies who have seen a business opportunity in incineration and are keen to capitalise on it.

“We all agree that there will be a demand for incineration as we move away from landfilling waste. But unless this is controlled via careful planning and guidance from the Government, we risk undermining the waste hierarchy and building a network of hungry incinerators that will need feeding with ever more waste.”

 

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