IF Scotland is to hit its green targets for recycling, energy recover facilities like the one proposed for Westfield must be built.

That’s the response from Iain Cockburn, the chief financial officer of Brockwell Energy, the parent company behind the proposals for a plant that will burn rubbish at the site.

The proposals have been met by a number of objections and were heavily criticised by MSP Mark Ruskell.

Mr Cockburn said the firm is a “strong advocate” of recycling and reducing the use and disposal of single use plastics, arguing that such plants are vital to get rid of rubbish that can’t be recycled and shouldn’t go to landfill.

And he told the Times: “We agree with Mr Ruskell that Sepa’s latest published statistics show that in 2017, 175,296 tonnes of Scotland’s household waste was incinerated, but the same publication from Sepa also shows that 1.1 million tonnes of household waste was sent to landfill in the same year, from a total of 2.46 million tonnes produced.

“If Scotland is to achieve its targets set under its Zero Waste Plan to stop using landfill for household waste containing biodegradable material by January 2021, then new facilities such as the one proposed at Westfield are required to replace landfill.”

He added that the Sepa figures for 2017 only related to household waste and did not include the amount of rubbish produced by businesses across Scotland (3.26 million tonnes in 2016), who are “still reliant on landfill for waste that cannot be recycled”.

Westfield Energy Recovery Ltd was set up by Brockwell Energy specifically for the project.

And Brockwell is itself a subsidiary of Hargreaves Services plc, responsible for the development and operation of the group’s energy generation projects.

Hargreaves has owned the Westfield site since 2013 and the liquidation of Scottish Coal, the previous owner. Since then it has successfully delivered restoration and development at many of the sites across the Scottish coalfields, including St Ninians at Kelty and Muirdean at Crossgates, that were left in a derelict state after the demise of Scottish Coal.

Mr Cockburn continued: “The Zero Waste Plan for Scotland acknowledges that recovering energy from waste material is preferable to landfill, so new facilities such as the one proposed at Westfield are required to deliver that aim.

“As a result, it is inevitable that there will be an increase in the amount of waste used for energy generation; so we do not understand Mr Ruskell’s logic in objecting to our planning submissions at Westfield on the basis that there will be an increase in the amount of waste used for energy generation in Scotland to the levels achieved in 2017.

“The current amount of waste processed through energy recovery plants is not limited by the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of – it is limited by the lack of operating capacity.”

He said Scotland “lags behind” England in developing energy recovery plants and warned there will remain a “a very significant shortfall in capacity” even if recycling rates rise to the levels targeted by the Zero Waste Plan.

Mr Cockburn explained: “This is the reality of waste in Scotland. As promoter of two plants we remain strong advocates of recycling and the reduction in the use and disposal of single use plastics.

“Our plants do not undermine these objectives – instead they provide vital capacity to safely and effectively dispose of the residual waste that simply cannot be recycled and simply should not be landfilled.”

He also said: “It is our view and a view shared by the general market that the majority of sites that have been consented but that have not yet started construction, simply will not be built.

“Future capacity projections should therefore be based on a view of what plants are likely to reach construction and not a more naive view of overall consented capacity.

“Due to the costs and challenges in financing plants it is very unlikely that over-capacity will arise as funders will not provide the finance necessary for a plant unless there is a very clear forecast capacity shortfall.”

Addressing Mr Ruskell’s claim that there was a “lack of collaborative working with the local communities”, he said they held six separate public exhibitions “at which we provided an explanation of proposals and took on board views we received from those attending”.

Mr Cockburn added: “Since then we have offered community councils the opportunity for an update on progress at Westfield, and have provided that in June. At all these meetings we have proposed the establishment of a liaison committee to take on board input from local communities and we are in the process of establishing that group.

“In September we held a separate meeting with residents along the road between Westfield and the motorway to take on board their specific concerns, and we have agreed to meet in that forum going forward to address traffic management issues. Mr Ruskell attended that meeting.”

He said Mr Ruskell’s objection as regards a planning condition refers to the preparation of a phasing plan which must be approved by Fife Council prior to any construction.

Mr Cockburn said they were “fully aware of the need to do this” but the information required will be included in a separate planning submission.

He said: “Our aim is to use the energy recovery facility to produce a source of heat and power on site that other businesses moving to Westfield could use, and therefore it needs to be developed at an early stage.

“That way we can provide businesses with a predictable and cost effective source of energy, and the residual waste used as fuel at the facility can be used efficiently, providing an economic benefit from material that would otherwise be destined for landfill; which is in compliance with the Zero Waste Plan for Scotland.

“Westfield has lain derelict for far too many years and we are committed to trying to make the Westfield site into a successful business park.”