No more planning permission for incinerators in Scotland, says minister

Scotland follows in Wales' footsteps , which banned incineration in 2021 and stands third worldwide for recycling.

Greens MSP Lorna Slater announces ban on new incinerators in Scottish Parliament following review iStock

Greens minister Lorna Slater has said that municipal incineration facilities will no longer be granted planning permission.

The circular economy minister announced in parliament on Thursday that the Scottish Government would ensure that no further planning permission is granted to new incinerators, as recommended by a recent independent review.

Slater told the Scottish Parliament there would only be very limited exceptions to the new anti-Energy from Waste (EfW) policy.

The capacity analysis from the review showed that by 2027, Scotland would have more incineration capacity than there is available waste to burn. 

Waste sector expert Dr Colin Church – who authored the report – proposed a cap on planning for any new burning facilities unless also ensuring an “equal or greater closure of capacity” for waste being incinerated.

Local authorities will continue to be required to alert Scottish ministers to new planning applications that involve incineration. 

Scottish Greens energy and climate spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said: “This ban will be put into action through the national planning framework so that new incinerations are prohibited on the same basis as new nuclear power and fracking.”

“By putting in place sensible measures to limit and gradually reduce Scotland’s incineration capacity, we can make sure we can manage our waste today, while ensuring our future waste infrastructure aligns with our climate targets.”

Environmental campaigners welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to ban new incinerators, and urged Ministers to next tackle the impact of existing incinerators.

Kim Pratt, Friends of the Earth Scotland circular economy campaigner, said: “The Scottish Government’s ban on new incinerators is very welcome news and must mark the beginning of the end for these polluting projects that keep us locked into sending valuable resources up in smoke.

“It is vital the Scottish Government acts now to tackle the impact of our existing incinerators, given their huge climate pollution. Reducing the amount of plastic waste burnt is the only viable option for cutting emissions from existing plants. Carbon Capture and Storage is completely unsuitable for incineration as it is technically challenging, extremely expensive and locks us into a polluting system.”

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