Spending warning as councils move to find new waste plant operator

The DERL waste-to-energy plant at Baldovie.
The DERL waste-to-energy plant at Baldovie.

A deal to bring a new operator to the loss-making Baldovie waste energy plant must not be a “false dawn” for taxpayers in Dundee, a city councillor has warned.

Labour member Richard McCready has said that council chiefs “must not come back for more” from the public purse after the deal is done.

Dundee City and Angus councils have jointly posted tender documents asking for bidders to treat and dispose of residual waste from the two areas.

From 2016, the successful bidder will be required to deal with around 60,000 to 90,000 tonnes of waste a year for around 20 years.

Mr McCready said: “We are all very keen that this new deal will work for the people of Dundee.

“There have been a few false dawns at Baldovie in terms of what has happened previously. I would hope that this is a model that would work.

“It needs to be clear what is expected from the taxpayers and that they won’t be coming back for more on a regular basis, which is effectively what has happened in the past.”

The most recent figures for household waste recycling show Angus Council at 43.2%, while Dundee City Council sits at 31.1%.

Both local authorities are on the way to exceeding the Scottish Government’s 50% household waste recycling target through significant investment in recycling for households and an ongoing commitment to promoting recycling.

Ken Guild, convener of Dundee City Council’s policy and resources committee, said the use of Baldovie had saved both Dundee and Angus councils “a considerable amount of money in landfill tax”, and added that it was of “paramount importance” to fix a price for the long term.

According to the tender placed on the Public Contracts Scotland website, it is envisaged that the contract will include design, planning, construction, commissioning, licensing, operation and maintenance of residual waste reception and treatment facilities.

Any facility must have the capacity to enable a third party to buy back electricity and/or heat, and the operator will have to commit to working with both councils to ensure “real and sustainable community benefits”.

A preferred bidder is expected to be announced in spring 2016 with a final appointment made later that year.