A £180million plan to transform the way Glasgow disposes of its waste has taken a major step forward.
Planning applications have been lodged to build a giant energy-from-waste plant, in the Shieldhall area of the city, and a recycling centre in Clydebank.
The go-ahead for both would create almost 100 permanent jobs and enough work to keep 500 construction workers busy for months.
But it all hinges on councillors in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire granting planning permission to Peel Environmental and approving the facilities on both sides of the Clyde
Politicians are formulating a zero waste blueprint to avoid having to pay increased taxes for burying rubbish in landfill sites. It's a major issue especially in Glasgow, which generates nearly 400,000 tonnes of municipal rubbish each year.
Peel Environmental – which is part of the The Peel Group, an infrastructure giant that owns Clydeport –reckons the best solution would be to burn the refuse and turn it into energy.
Company chiefs are actively pursuing the idea of a district heating zone for the people of Shieldhall, as well as calculating that waste which is unsuitable for the recycling plant will be able to generate 20MW of electricity for the National Grid – the equivalent of powering 38,000 homes.
Company director Myles Kitcher said: "The submission of these planning applications is an important step to bringing significant investment, jobs and a source of renewable energy to Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire.
"Peel Environmental is committed to making a positive contribution to the communities in which it operates. From the outset we have sought to keep the local community appraised and updated as the proposed plans progressed and have taken feedback on board."
A route planner for lorry drivers was amended to minimise the impact of traffic on residential areas in Clydebank if the recycling centre, planned for the town's disused Rothesay Dock, gets the go-ahead.
Costing £35m to build, it will sustain 150 construction jobs and create 44 permanent posts when the North Clyde Recycling Centre opens its doors.
It will handle 250,000 tonnes of waste, although half will be turned into fuel for energy-from-waste sites such as the one suggested by Peel for Glasgow.
The proposed South Clyde Energy Centre in Shieldhall's Bogmoor Road will cost four times as much and will be located not far from the city's George V dock and Hillington Industrial Estate.
The bill will be £145m and that will help keep 350 construction personnel in work. The Centre – just like the recycling plant – will operate round the clock and employ a workforce of 45.
It will take rubbish from councils in and around Glasgow and the private sector. But company officials are at pains to stress that the centre will not handle toxic waste. And they readily admit planning approval for both sites could eventually result in Peel chiefs leasing the facilities to waste management specialists such as Viridor. It is building an energy centre at Polmadie and has been awarded a 25 year deal by the council to handle 175,000 tonnes of city waste annually.
Scottish councils face punitive penalties for breaching some of the world's toughest regulations for the disposal of waste, which has led to huge interest from private firms for a share of the spoils.
Peel officials are keen to emphasise the employment benefits both sites will bring to the west of Scotland.
Mr Kitcher stressed: "We have agreed to work with the Glasgow Regeneration Agency and West Dunbartonshire Council to maximise local job opportunities.
"Jobs were a key issue raised during the public consultation. We are determined to follow best practice in developing apprenticeships and recruiting local people."
He and his colleagues are also quick to make the point that in the last year 200 construction companies have gone to the wall in Scotland as a result of the financial slump which is gripping the country. They reckon both plants could end up becoming the largest construction projects on Scotland's west coast if planning permission is granted, and both are backed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Council chiefs in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire confirmed that planning applications had been lodged by Peel and said the details would be considered in "due course."
If there are no delays each site could be operational before 2014 and that could mean cheaper electricity bills for thousands of city families.
TIME RUNNING OUT FOR CITY LANDFILL SITE
GLASGOW'S only landfill site is due to close in 2014 and, along with the introduction of harsher financial penalties, city councillors have opted for an energy plant at Polmadie, above. It will be built by Viridor and for both parties it's a win-win situation.
Councillors reckon they will save £239million of taxpayers' money over the 25 year contract, rather than continually using landfill sites.
Peel chiefs reckon their Shieldhall site could be operational in 2014 – a year before the Polmadie plant is due to fire up.
However, experts reckon there's enough waste for both city sites as council chiefs across the west of Scotland pursue zero waste policies. There's every possibility that landfill sites are about to be dumped.