Borders landfill site to close as SBC seeks to export waste

The Easter Langlee landfill site is set to be closed, with a �6m waste transfer station built in its place.

The Easter Langlee landfill site is set to be closed, with a �6m waste transfer station built in its place.

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The region’s giant landfill site at Easter Langlee near Galashiels is set to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Elected members of Scottish Borders Council are being asked today to approve the decommissioning of the dump and its replacement with a waste transfer station (WTS) at a capital cost of over £6million.

The bulk of this will be spent in 2017/18 when landfill capacity at the site, which handles an annual 40,000 tonnes of household and commercial residual waste, will be exhausted.

When the WTS is operational, rubbish will be hauled to Easter Langlee before being transported to treatment facilities outwith the Borders.

Driving the recommendation from SBC’s waste manager Ross Sharp-Dent are two key factors – the Scottish Government’s ban of on all biodegradable waste going to landfill by January 1, 2021, and the collapse of a deal, signed in 2012, to provide an advanced treatment plant (ATP) at Easter Langlee.

That latter facility, which would have diverted 80% of all residual waste from landfill, was due to be delivered by New Earth Solutions (NES), but the council scrapped the contract in February because the technology was untested and the firm could not attract the required private investment.

SBC was then forced to write off the £2million it had spent on the failed procurement.

The council is set to miss the Scottish Government’s target by some margin with 63% (40,000 tonnes) of collected waste currently going to landfill – up 5% on last year and due to the withdrawal of kerbside garden waste collections.

“In order to comply…the council will either have to treat its biodegradable municipal waste in the Borders prior to landfill or transfer it out of the Borders for treatment,” states Mr Sharp-Dent in his report to today’s full council meeting.

After an “options appraisal”, which included creating more landfill capacity at Easter Langlee, he is recommending the latter course of action.

“An urgent decision needs to be taken,” he adds.

The transfer station will be situated on the part of the Easter Langlee site which had been earmarked for the NES plant.

The future destination of Borders waste will be determined by another procurement exercise when treatment plant operators from outwith the region will be invited to tender for the contract.

Mr Sharp-Dent states: “There are now a number of treatment facilities with capacity, either operational or in the process of being developed, outwith the region within reach of the Borders. Gate fees for merchant treatment capacity are becoming increasingly competitive.”

The transportation of 40,000 tonnes of Borders waste in standard 26-tonne lorries, would involve 1,163 journeys.