Recycling levels in the Borders have dropped

Easter Langlee Landfill Site near Galashiels.
Easter Langlee Landfill Site near Galashiels.

Scottish Borders Council is a long way from meeting Scottish Government targets to send no more than 5% of waste to landfill by 2025.

Since 2011, the amount of domestic waste from Borders homes has actually risen, not fallen, going up from 53% in 2011 up to 60%.

Now Borders MSP John Lamont says residents in the region are being discouraged from recycling, citing as evidence the withdrawal of green bins for garden waste, fewer than a half of households having food waste bins, major towns like Jedburgh not having their own recycling centres and households having only one domestic waste bin apiece.

In a Scottish Parliament exchange with the Scottish Government Secretary in charge of recycling, Roseanna Cunningham, Mr Lamont highlighted the idea of having a single, consistent, easy-to-use recycling collection system supported by a £50m capital fund for local authorities.

Ms Cunningham questioned Mr Lamont’s reason for raising the issue of centralising waste and recycling services, adding: “I also congratulate him on what will no doubt be turned into a local press release, which may or may not have something to do with the current elections.”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Lamont said: “The vast majority of people in the Borders I speak to understand the importance of recycling but are frustrated by how difficult the council are making it.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “The council has invested over £1m in its recycling centres in an effort to improve its recycling rates, with a new facility opened at Kelso in 2015 and major improvements to Hawick and Selkirk centres carried out in 2016.”

Plans for a waste transfer station to replace the current landfill site at Easter Langlee, near Galashiels, next year were rejected by the council’s planning committee this week, however, due to traffic concerns.

The council’s planning committee voted 5-2 on Monday to reject a bid by the local authority to create a £5.2m waste transfer station (WTS) at Easter Langlee on the outskirts of Galashiels.

Chief planning officer Ian Aikman recommending approval of the new bid, noteing that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had withdrawn earlier objections regarding odour and noise emissions and was now satisfied with the mitigation measures proposed.

But the main issue for objectors was the ability of the narrow C77 minor road linking Galashiels to the site to cope safely with the 88 HGV movements per day predicted by transport consultants commissioned by the council.

Although SBC’s road user manager Derek Ingles conceded these lorries would be more heavily laden than those accessing the landfill site, he concluded the increase was “fairly minimal”.

Committee chairman Councillor Ron Smith said that subject to conditions to improve signage and lighting on the C77, he was content to move for approval of the application.

However, Councillor Bill White, who will seek re-election in the Galashiels & District ward next Thursday, revealed he had walked up the C77 earlier this month.

“I was frankly shocked at the speed and volume of heavy traffic and I twice had to jump out of the way to avoid being run over,” he told the meeting.

“Since housing came to this area, the danger to pedestrians has intensified and I cannot in all conscience support this.”