GREEN MSP Mark Ruskell has criticised the Scottish Government for not having adequate plans over incineration of waste, ahead of a Fife Council vote next week to approve a major incinerator near Ballingry.

Brockwell Energy received Planning Permission in Principle in 2017 to redevelop the former Westfield Opencast coal mine. However, critics have said plans for a solar farm, business units and parkland included in the masterplan are merely ‘greenwashing’ for a large incinerator that could burn up to 250,00 tonnes of waste per year.

An investigation in 2017 found that 11 new waste incinerators could be built in Scotland, including the site at Westfield, with capacity to burn over 2 million tonnes of waste per year – nearly a third of all Scotland’s waste. Campaigners say this could undermine recycling efforts and cause untold environmental damage.

The Central Area Planning Committee are due to consider detailed plans for the incinerator at their meeting on Monday February 4.

Mr Ruskell said: “In the last few years we’ve seen a rush of applications in Scotland to build so called ‘energy from waste’ facilities, which will burn rubbish we will soon no longer be able to send to landfill.

"This completely misses the point of closing landfill sites, however, – we should be doing all we can to reduce non-recyclable waste to an absolute minimum, not planning to burn it all instead".

He added: "I’ve met with both the Environment Secretary and Energy Minister, and written to officials multiple times, but the Government still haven’t produced a long term plan for managing incineration in Scotland. The planning system is being dictated by companies who have seen a business opportunity in incineration and are keen to capitalise on it.

There are also specific local issues that have yet to be addressed with the Westfield application – most notably the plan to send hundreds of HGVs each day filled with rubbish along narrow, dangerous rural roads.

"The local liason group that was recommended by the council back in 2017 still hasn’t been set up either, and the surrounding communities feel like their concerns simply haven’t been listened to.

"I hope Fife Councillors will take this into account when considering the application, but the Scottish Government also needs to urgently step up and put in place clear plans to minimise waste incineration in Scotland in the coming decades.”