Public views SITA plans for new Stoneyhill development

Local residents have given their views on design options for a proposed new resource recovery park that could reduce the amount of Aberdeenshire household waste sent to landfill by 70 percent.

Around 90 people attended SITA UK’s first set of public exhibitions about the plans to develop the Stoneyhill Resource Recovery Park, which were held at Longhaven and Cruden Bay last week.

The public consultation was organised to enable residents to get involved in the proposal at an early stage, and to give their preferred design options, before SITA UK finalises its planning application later this year.

A company spokesperson said: “ Two separate exhibitions were held into the evenings of 15th and 16th March. Both dates were widely publicised and were well attended by people from within the local community, including from Peterhead.

“We are extremely grateful to those that were able to attend and express their views and opinions on this proposed development, but for anyone who hasn’t been able to come along this week, a second set of exhibitions will be held later this year.

“The exhibition materials can also be viewed online at www.sita.co.uk/your-environment/our-plans/stoneyhill and we would welcome questions or comments via email at stoneyhill@sita.co.uk.”

As part of its contract to manage the treatment and disposal of Aberdeenshire’s non-recycled waste for the next 15 years, SITA UK is proposing to utilise modern, sophisticated waste treatment technology to divert waste from landfill, in line with Scotland’s Zero Waste Policy.

It plans to develop a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facility, incorporating in-vessel composting (IVC), and a gasification plant, adjacent to the existing Stoneyhill landfill site, which is 1.5km west of Longhaven and 7km south west of Peterhead.

SITA claim the facility will lead to the creation of some 200 jobs during the peak periods of construction and 35 permanent operational jobs, and would reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 70 percent by increasing recycling rates and treating residual waste in the plant.

As part of the plans, SITA UK would also create the Stoneyhill Community Fund, which would offer financial assistance to suitable projects and organisations around the local area.

Martin Cracknell, SITA UK’s Strategic Development Manager in Scotland, said: “The issue of how we deal with Aberdeenshire’s waste is something that has to be addressed if the county is to meet Government targets, and SITA UK believes that a facility that combines both gasification and mechanical biological treatment is the best option.

“We have been heartened by the comments and support we have received so far, and thank everyone who took the trouble to come to the exhibitions, and who shared their thoughts and ideas with us.

“We are keen to take on board the thoughts of the community, so are now considering the comments we received, including those on the preferred design option, as we draw up the final planning application. We then look forward to coming back in May to share our proposal with the public.”

The resource recovery park will assist Aberdeenshire to meet strict new Government targets on the disposal of waste.

SITA UK aims to achieve this by minimising the levels of waste currently being put into landfill by increasing recovery rates and treating the non-recycled waste through mechanical biological treatment and gasification. The process will further increase recycling and will produce enough electricity for the National Grid to supply both the plant and 6,000 homes, which is the equivalent of a third of the homes in Peterhead.

At present, Aberdeenshire produces about 150,000 tonnes of household waste a year, out of which 50,000 tonnes is sent for recycling, while the remaining 100,000 tonnes is sent to landfill.

A further set of exhibitions will be held at the end of May when the final details will be on display.

But not everyone who attended shared SITA’s views of the benefits of the new facility, with John Askey, a campaigner against the previous Buchan CHP incincerator bid for Upperton in Peterhead, claiming it will “emit toxic chemicals into the air which will spread out over Peterhead, Hatton, Cruden Bay and the area”.

In a letter to the Buchan Observer (page 36) Mr Askey writes: “ Incinerators do not provide a renewable source of energy through “capturing” the energy produced by burning waste. SITA and this SNP government claim that the electricity created when waste is burned is a type of renewable energy as it displaces the equivalent amount of electricity generated at a power station from fossil fuels.

“However, in reality the incineration of recyclable material actually results in even more fossil fuel energy being consumed.

“When materials are destroyed in incinerators, new ones have to be made to replace them!

“Not rocket science. The extraction and processing of virgin materials uses huge amounts of energy as well as causing other environmental impacts.

“Risks are not the same for all individuals, the unborn child is uniquely susceptible to toxic damage and early exposures can have life changing consequences.”