Surprise offer of Lochaber energy incinerator welcomed

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A senior Lochaber councillor has welcomed a surprise offer from a local businessman to look into the building of a waste to energy incinerator that would burn 100,000 tons of rubbish to generate heat and power for local homes.

Councillor Allan Henderson (Caol and Mallaig), who is also chairman of Highland Council environment, development and infrastructure committee, told the Lochaber Times this week he believed Corpach-based Boyd Brothers haulage and harbour firm founder Calum Boyd was ‘absolutely serious’ when he raised the idea at Kilmallie Community Council on Monday.

‘Calum’s offer certainly came out of the blue, but it is worth talking about because his suggestion definitely has legs.

‘His idea that Boyd Brothers and Bowman’s [another Corpach-based haulage firm] could join forces to look at doing something like this makes a lot of sense and would see reasonably cheap power being generated.’

Mr Boyd’s comments at the community council meeting came during a discussion about the nearby Duisky landfill site which has been the target of long-standing complaints about bad odours.

The Scottish Government recently conceded that all local authorities would not be in a position to stop dumping municipal waste into landfill by its deadline of 2021.

Local resident Roddy Mainland asked: ‘That means it could be another few years longer that we have to hold our noses then?’

Councillor Henderson then mentioned a visit he once made to Shetland’s capital, Lerwick, to see its energy recovery plant which burns municipal waste and rubbish to generate heat for local homes and businesses and all without producing black smoke or bad smells.

It was at this point Mr Boyd asked why such a plant could not be built in Lochaber to cater for this area.

Mr Henderson said such a plant would need to deal with 100,000 tons of waste from across the Highlands – after 40,000 tons of recyclable material was removed – and the issue was building something economically for Highland Council.

‘It’s getting the figures to stack up,’ he added.

But Mr Boyd responded: ‘I still think a private concern could build an incinerator. I am sure together with Bowman’s we could put a case together that would suit Lochaber.

‘It seems ridiculous in this day and age that we are shifting waste about when we could be generating energy right here in Lochaber.

‘I would’ve thought something like that could be up and running within two years in construction terms, although all the planning and bureaucracy might mean it would take longer.’

When told by Mr Boyd he was very serious, Mr Henderson replied: ‘I can give you a meeting tomorrow – I wouldn’t refuse to discuss that offer.’