ESA urges a swift conclusion to EfW review to reduce risk of undermining market confidence in much needed investment in EfW infrastructure

The Scottish Government's EfW review will look at the role of waste and energy from waste in Scotland.
ESA urges a swift conclusion to EfW review to reduce risk of undermining market confidence in much needed investment in EfW infrastructure

The Scottish Environmental Services Association has urged the Scottish Government to 'conclude its EfW review as quickly as possible' and 'not to delay or deter investment in much needed waste treatment infrastructure'. In a statement before the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport had announced a review into incineration in May 2021 to examine the role it plays in Scotland’s waste hierarchy, including the need for new incineration capacity.

The review will also have scope to consider how emissions from existing incinerators can be reduced and residual heat may be reused; and consider the societal impacts of residual waste treatment, including health and community impacts. The government aims to review evidence from December 2021 to March 2022 with plans to publish the review as soon as it is finished.

In a statement to EfW Net, the SESA said: "With Scotland continuing to face a residual waste treatment capacity gap, the Scottish Government should conclude its EfW review as quickly as possible so as not to delay or deter investment in much needed waste treatment infrastructure. EfW is the only viable and bankable alternative to landfill for the treatment of Scotland’s non-recyclable waste, and with every tonne diverted from landfill saving 200kg CO2e.

"The Scottish Government already has powers to call-in applications and therefore the temporary requirement on local authorities to notify the Scottish Government of any EfW proposals during the review period will unlikely have much practical consequence. However, these signals aren’t particularly helpful and could serve to spook the market, further undermining confidence in the sector to get on and deliver landfill-ban compliant solutions with local authority partners."

In an update on the review before the Scottish Parliament on 17 November, Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater announced that waste and sustainability expert Dr Colin Church has been appointed as the independent chair of the review into the role of incineration in the waste hierarchy in Scotland. To support the review, which forms part of the cooperation deal with the Scottish Green Party, the Minister announced that planning authorities must now notify Scottish Ministers of any applications or decisions involving incineration facilities, until the end of the review period.

Dr Church is CEO of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and Chair of the Circular Economy Task Force, a business group convened by Green Alliance. He previously held roles as the CEO of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management, non-executive director for WRAP, and various Director roles across Environmental Quality and Climate Change with Defra and the former Department of Energy and Climate Change. He stated that he was 'looking forward to this interesting and important role'.

Scottish Circular Economy Minister and Scottish Green Lorna Slater said: “A circular economy is at the heart of Scotland’s response to the climate emergency and will help dramatically reduce the amount of waste generated in Scotland.

“We must also find better ways to deal with the waste our economy is currently creating. That’s why I’m pleased that Dr Colin Church will bring his wealth of experience from across the waste and environmental sectors to our review on the role of incineration.

“To make sure that any plans are closely monitored while the review is ongoing, we have issued a temporary notification direction today. This will ensure that Ministers are abreast of any new planning applications or planning decisions relating to incinerators. It is temporary and does not in any way pre-empt the outcome of the review."


The 2022 EfW Conference will be addressing questions related to EfW and Net Zero policy and their integration within a circular economy. Jacob Hayler, Executive Director ESA, will be speaking at the conference on: Policy approaches in UK and EU to circular economy, net zero and waste to energy integration – are polices joining up? Will they encourage the necessary investment and make the most of resources?

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