The Scottish government has said that it will no longer grant permission for energy from waste facilities that use incineration, following an independent review.
The review, which was authored by waste sector expert and former CIWM CEO Dr Colin Church, reviewed the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy, with a focus on aligning national capacity with Scotland’s waste reduction targets.
The report made 12 policy recommendations for the Scottish Government, local authorities and the wider waste industry, including proposing that no further planning permission should be granted to EfW infrastructure within the scope of the review, “unless balanced by an equal or greater closure of capacity”.
The capacity analysis completed for the review suggested that there is “likely” to be a capacity gap in 2025, when the biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) ban comes into force.
In a Ministerial Statement to parliament, Scotland’s Circular Economy Minister confirmed that the Scottish Government has accepted all twelve recommendations, including Dr Church’s recommendation that no further planning permission for incineration facilities should be granted.
By putting in place sensible measures to limit and gradually reduce Scotland’s incineration capacity, we can make sure we can manage our waste today, while ensuring our future waste infrastructure aligns with our climate targets.
New national planning policy will be introduced through National Planning Framework 4, which will be presented to the Scottish Parliament for approval later this year.
This policy will make clear that the Scottish Government “does not support the development of further municipal waste incineration capacity in Scotland, with very limited exceptions”.
In the meantime, a notification direction will remain in place, requiring local authorities to alert Scottish Ministers of new planning applications that involve incineration facilities. A similar notification direction was used previously, and successfully, to give the effect of a moratorium on Unconventional Oil and Gas.
Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater said: “Reducing waste and recycling what we do produce is key to tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity and ensuring we all enjoy a healthy environment. That’s why we are taking action to create a circular economy, in which materials are kept in use for as long as possible and precious natural resources are not wasted.
“We also need to make sure we manage unavoidable and unrecyclable waste in the short term. By putting in place sensible measures to limit and gradually reduce Scotland’s incineration capacity, we can make sure we can manage our waste today, while ensuring our future waste infrastructure aligns with our climate targets.
“I look forward to working with local authorities and industry to take forward these recommendations.”
The review also made two provisional recommendations on decarbonisation, pending the completion of further detailed analysis of options to decarbonise existing residual waste infrastructure. This work has been commissioned and is expected to be delivered by the end of the year, with Dr Church continuing to serve as independent chair.