Jan 20 2010 by Gordon Robertson, Airdrie & Coatbridge
A POLITICIAN has backed protestors in their bid to keep a controversial waste-to-energy plant out of Monklands.
Elaine Smith MSP, who represents Coatbridge and Chryston, questioned the safety of pyrolysis technology at the Scottish Parliament.
Perth-based Shore Energy want to build a plant using that method of incineration.
But residents throughout Monklands have joined a campaign aimed at keeping the plant out of the area.
Ms Smith told the Advertiser: “I am deeply concerned about the long-term safety of pyrolysis waste technology and do not believe we should be taking any chances with the health of our children.
“The vast majority of my constituents are against the proposal by Shore Energy for the Carnbroe area and I am firmly on their side.”
The politician initially asked Richard Lochhead, the secretary for rural affairs and the environment, whether waste provision ought to be provided by the government and not private companies.
But she followed up her query by asking the minister if he supported pyrolysis and urged him to “assure my constituents in Carnbroe who oppose the use of the process that no long-term health risks of any kind are associated with the process”.
Mr Lochhead’s response paid tribute to North Lanarkshire Council for already passing their recycling target for 2010 and said approval of Shore Energy’s proposals was a matter for the local authority.
Ms Smith focused on the belief that the minister did not “give me a straight answer” on the safety of pyrolysis.
She said: “I will continue to press for an answer to that vitally important question, but can only assume that the SNP support this proposal.
“In the meantime, since the minister cannot guarantee its safety, this development must be resisted since the ‘precautionary principle’ must prevail.
“I find it unacceptable that recent letters to the Advertiser seem to be attempting to blame the country’s waste problem on those opposed to this development and portray them as somehow selfish and short-sighted.
“Ordinary people recognise that waste has to be dealt with in a safe and sustainable way and not via landfill. However, that does not mean accepting a proposal by a company that intends to make profit out of an untested process. The profit motive does not inspire confidence in the safety of this technology.
“The people of Carnbroe and Coatbridge are not responsible for all of the waste in central Scotland and they will not put up and shut up simply to allow a private company to profit. Alex Salmond and his Ministers may dither over this matter but I will not stand by and allow Coatbridge to become the dumping ground of Central Scotland.”
Shore Energy insisted that residents had nothing to fear about their proposals.
Jon Garvey, project director, said: “An independent health assessment was carried out as part of our planning process. It has been reviewed by SEPA, who are the body designated by the government to assess and regulate these proposals, and they have assessed our proposals and accepted them. Other statutory consultees have also accepted its findings which are that the plant will be safe and that there will be no health impact.”
Shore Energy’s application will be heard by North Lanarkshire Council’s planning and transportation committee on Wednesday, January 27.
Although it is possible for the plans to be either approved or rejected, it is likely that a decision will be deferred for a site visit to take place.