Independent Report Calls for Ban on New Incinerators in Scotland 

A Scottish incineration plant, which may face closure if the report’s recommendations are implemented
Photograph: Unsplash. 

An independent report  published yesterday has called for an immediate ban on the Scottish Government’s plans to build nine new waste-burning incinerators.

The report reveals the huge scale of Scotland’s incineration problem and provides 12 policy recommendations for local authorities and the wider waste industry that aim to reduce the alarming environmental impacts incinerators cause. 

Up to nine new incinerators are either in the planning process or are scheduled to be in operation in the coming years. According to Friends of the Earth Scotland, these new incinerators could create the capacity for an extra 1.5 million tonnes of waste to be burned in Scotland. 

Furthermore, figures released from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) show that a total of 2,429.057 tonnes of household waste was sent to incinerators in Scotland in 2020 and that figure has tripled in the last ten years. Currently, Scotland is burning as much household waste as it sends to landfill. 

The author of the report, Dr Colin Church, has stated that the Scottish Government: 

“Should ensure that no further planning permission (i.e. beyond that already in place) is granted to incineration infrastructure” unless it is “balanced by an equal or greater closure of capacity.”

While environmental campaigners have praised the report’s call for a ban on new incinerators, they advocate that there needs to be a clear exit strategy from incineration. 

Kimm Pratt, circular economy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, has stated that a ban on new incinerators is only half the solution, and that: 

“It is concerning that the report does not include a detailed carbon assessment, given the direct threat of incinerators to our climate goals.”

Over 1,000 people have supported Friends of the Earth Scotland’s calls for an immediate ban of new incinerators, alongside recent  action taken by local groups to halt plans of new incinerators being built. 

A recent example is The Dovesdale Action Group’s successful campaign to halt the plans for a major incinerator being built in South Lanarkshire, and more can be read about their commendable efforts here

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