Waste strategy ‘catalogue of failure’ by SBC

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A former Scotsman journalist has made a formal request for Audit Scotland to investigate Scottish Borders Council’s handling of its waste treatment strategy.

In February this year SBC announced that a £65 million, 24 year contract for waste management specialists New Earth Solutions Group Ltd (NES) had been cancelled, the council writing off £2 million.

Part of that contract was for development of a £27 million waste treatment facility at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, followed by the provision of an ‘Energy From Waste’ facility. At some point the council and NES agreed to develop both at the same time and this seems to have been where things may have gone wrong.

Frustrated at being unable to get answers via Freedom of Information requests about the circumstances leading to the contract being cancelled, Bill Chisholm has resorted to asking Audit Scotland to investigate having concluded: “The full facts and background to this costly 13-year catalogue of failure must be brought into the public domain, and those responsible for the recommendations and ill-conceived decisions along the way should be identified and held to account.

“Decisions taken in private by councillors resulted in a financial catastrophe; council taxpayers have suffered; and those responsible should be held to account.

“The loss of such a substantial amount of public money cannot simply be ignored”.

A spokesperson for SBC told us: “The council has considered the letter and report by Mr Chisholm and finds its contents not accurate and therefore its conclusions misleading. As such, the council will not be responding to it.

“The council has acted properly and appropriately throughout the waste treatment project and will continue to do so.

“Given the contractual obligations with New Earth Solutions, all monies spent were expended both appropriately and we believe effectively.”