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Planning permission granted for Materials Recovery Facility at Longman, Inverness

11th June 2019

Photograph of Planning permission granted for Materials Recovery Facility at Longman, Inverness

The Highland Council's South Planning Applications Committee has today (Tuesday 11 June 2019) granted planning permission for a new centralised waste management facility (Materials Recovery Facility) on part of the former Longman landfill site in Inverness.

The facility is intended to support the Council in meeting forthcoming changes to national waste regulations. From 1st January 2021 it will no longer be permissible for refuse collected by the Council to be sent to landfill. The approved Materials Recovery Facility will comprise of a large rectangular building of approximately 100 metres by 34 metres; office and welfare facilities; a weighbridge, access road, car parking, landscaping and would see the former landfill site repurposed to reclaim valuable resources from present day Highland waste.

The Highland Council currently collects and disposes of around 144,000 tonnes of waste produced by households and commercial waste customers each year. At present, 43% of this material is recycled. The remaining refuse, which accounts for 57% of Highland waste (82,700 tonnes) is sent to landfill at a cost of approximately £11 million annually.

The Materials Recovery Facility will receive and process Highland refuse to recover recyclable materials. It will also reclaim value from the remaining refuse by preparing it for use as Refuse Derived Fuel. The Refuse Derived Fuel would be exported for use elsewhere in Scotland, the UK or Europe in thermal treatment facilities, which use the fuel to produce electricity and heat. The development is also intended to contribute to the efficient transportation of Highland waste.

Councillor Allan Henderson Chair of the Council's Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee said: "The change to national waste regulations from January 1st, 2021 will promote consideration of the waste we produce as a valuable resource and is intended to contribute to the development of a more circular economy. The Longman facility will play a pivotal role in Highland Council's plans to divert refuse from landfill as well as aiding efficient transportation of our waste and reducing the climate and wider environmental impacts associated with this."

Highland Council has consulted with SNH, SEPA, Scottish Water and other regulators to establish that the Facility will not have an adverse impact on the qualifying features of the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA); no objections were received.

The application and recommendation can be viewed at using the reference number 19/00503/FUL

What is a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)? These can fall into two main categories, those that are designed to process large volumes of mixed recyclables (e.g. from the blue bins) into their individual material streams and prepare them for sale in the commodity markets; or, as in this case, others that deal with mixed residual waste and look to recover value from the material by removing small amounts of recyclable streams such as metals and plastics, but in the main, producing a refuse derived fuel in readiness for sending to Energy from Waste facilities.

Currently almost all residual waste is landfilled with around 32,000 tonnes being bulked and transported out of the Highlands for landfill disposal in Aberdeenshire under a contract with SUEZ. The remainder is landfilled at Duisky landfill site in Lochaber under a contract with Lochiel Logistics or in Council sites at Seater in Caithness and Granish in Aviemore.