Work starts on Dunbar’s £177m waste facility

Artist's impression of Viridor's energy recovery plant at Dunbar
Artist's impression of Viridor's energy recovery plant at Dunbar

A workforce of around 350 has started on construction of Viridor’s new £177 million energy recovery facility at Dunbar.

Once operational in two years time the site will process 300,000 tonnes of post-recycling ‘residual’ waste per annum to generate 30MW of base-load renewable energy directly to the grid – enough to power continuously 39,000 homes – and will also offer up to 10MW of heat for local use.

It will support 55 full-time jobs and will boost the East Lothian economy by £10 million each year.

Ian McAulay, Viridor CEO, said the company was at the forefront : “This project will transforming waste that would otherwise have been consigned to landfill into vital renewable energy for 39,000 Scottish homes.

Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, was on site to see work start and he said: “We have seen a significant, sustained decrease in the amount of waste being sent to landfill – falling from 7.4 million tonnes in 2007 to 4.5 million tonnes in 2012.

“I am pleased to welcome this significant investment in Scotland’s waste infrastructure and its benefits for jobs and the local economy.”

The new energy recovery plant at Dunbar is one of the options being looked at to deal with Borders waste.

Since scrapping plans for a similar facility at Easter Langlee, Galashiels, earlier this year Scottish Borders Council has had to go back to the drawing board for developing an integrated waste management strategy.

Ross Sharp-Dent, waste manager at SBC said: “Scottish Borders Council is aware of Viridor’s plans for the development of an energy-from-waste facility at Dunbar. The council has recently agreed its approach to the development of a new waste management plan. Until such time that this is complete it is not possible to outline our future residual waste treatment requirements.”

The council terminated the £2.4m contract with New Earth Solutions to provide an integrated waste management facility, citing “significant changes” to Scottish waste policy and regulation, plus technological and funding problems as the reason.

A report before councillors last month indicated charges at facilities such as the Viridor plant are becoming increasingly competitive because of the landfill tax escalator (currently £82.60/t) combined with increased competition in the market place in the UK and Europe.

“As a result, the development of a waste treatment facility in the Scottish Borders is no longer the only viable option available to the council.”