Scotland’s ambitions to become a zero waste nation were today bolstered with the start of construction of Viridor’s new £177m energy recovery facility (ERF) in East Lothian, Scotland.

Viridor was pleased to welcome Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, to mark this milestone, which sits squarely within Scotland’s vision for a society where all waste is seen as a resource.

Part of a £500m Scottish investment programme in ‘next generation’ recycling and renewable energy infrastructure, the ERF will be based at Viridor’s existing rail-linked Oxwellmains waste treatment hub in Dunbar.  Following a 36 month build programme, the facility is due for completion in 2017.

Once operational the site will process 300,000 tonnes of post-recycling ‘residual’ waste per annum to generate 30MW of base-load renewable energy directly to the grid – enough to power continuously 39,000 homes – and will also offer up to 10MW of heat for local use.

Supporting at least 350 jobs during construction, including a range of professional, skilled, and entry-level roles and apprenticeships, the project will deliver a robust package of community benefits focused on employment and training, support for local business and education through Viridor’s flagship partnership with the Engineering Development Trust. Once built, the ERF will support a further 55 full-time jobs and will boost the East Lothian economy by £10m each year.

Viridor secured planning consent for the site from Scottish Ministers in December 2010, approval from SEPA in 2011, and on 28th November 2014 announced final approval for the project. A three year deal to build the ‘next generation’ ERF was then signed in December 2014 with technology specialist Babcock & Wilcox Vølund (BWV) and construction giant Interserve, continuing the working relationship established at Viridor’s £154m Glasgow Recycling & Renewable Energy Centre (GRREC).

Ian McAulay, Viridor CEO and Pennon group director, said: “Viridor is at the forefront of helping Scotland achieve its internationally ambitious target to be a zero waste nation. Part of a £357m Scottish recycling and energy investment programme committed within the last eighteen months, this project will transforming waste that would otherwise have been consigned to landfill into vital renewable energy for 39,000 Scottish homes.

“Scotland has a bold vision to build a more sustainable nation, with strong leadership from the Scottish Government enabling investment in the green economy.  We’re delighted to welcome the Cabinet Secretary here today and look forward to continuing that positive relationship aimed at giving resources new life.”

Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, said:

“We have seen a significant, sustained decrease in the amount of waste being sent to landfill – falling from 7.4 million tonnes in 2007 to 4.5 million tonnes in 2012.

“While Scotland is focused on moving towards a more circular economy, where goods are kept in high value use for as long as possible, there will still be a role for energy recovery for the limited amount of waste that cannot be prevented, reused or recycled.  I am pleased to welcome this significant investment in Scotland’s waste infrastructure and its benefits for jobs and the local economy.”