Council agrees Inverness site for Materials Recovery Facility

Highland Council has revealed the Longman Landfill site in Inverness as the preferred location to construct a new centralised waste management facility.

The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) will process all of the Highland’s 83,000 tonnes of residual (non-recyclable) waste from 2021 onwards.

The MRF will be designed to process mixed residual waste and look to recover value from the material by removing recyclable streams such as metals and plastics, but in the main, producing a refuse derived fuel in readiness for sending to Energy from Waste (EfW) facilities elsewhere.

The planning application process can now proceed in liaison with the Inverness Common Good Fund which is the site landowner. An implementation team have been preparing an external design of the facility and will preparing for the submission of a planning application, later in the autumn.

The council will also carry out further work to look at the feasibility of constructing an EfW facility co-located on the site in the future as a long term option if resources can be identified.

Thousands of tonnes of waste are produced in Highland every year, a large proportion of which currently ends up in landfill. The vast majority of waste is from households.

The council handles some 140,000 tonnes or waste per annum, and around 57,000 tonnes of this material is currently re-used, recycled or recovered from kerbside collections from households and businesses, as well as from Recycling Centres and Points.

However, around 83,000 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste is sent to landfill at a cost of approximately £11 million a year.

Councillor Allan Henderson who chairs the council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee, said: “I strongly believe that waste produced in the Highlands should be dealt with in the Highlands and the Longman site provides the best strategic location with excellent transport links.

“Long gone are the days when it was ok to just bury our waste out of sight in sites such as this, and allow future generations to deal with the consequences. The national legislation changes coming in on 1 January 2021 mean, like all other councils, we will not be allowed to landfill our biodegradable municipal waste. The aims of this ban are to promote waste being regarded as a commodity or resource, maximise reuse and recycling, and stimulate a circular economy. The ban will also reduce the amount of methane being produced by landfill sites. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 30 times more powerful than CO2. Failure to address the ban on landfilling waste is a significant risk for the council. Urgent action is now required, and doing nothing is not an option.”

Councillor Jimmy Gray, the administration’s environmental spokesperson, added: “Highland needs an overall waste strategy that is sustainable, affordable, friendly to the environment and efficient (SAFE).

“Our waste strategy needs to go beyond finding a clean and efficient way of dealing with our waste. We also need to promote a massive culture change – to change people’s behaviour and attitudes to waste and litter. We need the support of everyone, as individuals, families, schools, businesses and communities, to ensure that we in the Highlands set an example for the rest of Scotland to follow.”

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