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Council / Extension proposed to give landfill another 15 years

The council's waste management sites with the landfill in the background. Photo: Shetland News

DESIGN work could begin in the near future on a new third phase of the Gremista landfill site to allow waste to continue to be buried in Lerwick in the years to come.

A decision to progress with design work, which is expected to cost £75,000, was backed by Shetland Islands Council’s policy and resources committee on Monday.

The matter will now go in front of the full council next week for final approval – although the construction will be the subject of a separate business case in the future.

Councillors were told that without a landfill site, waste would have to be shipped to the UK mainland at a greater cost.

The landfill site takes in waste which is not suitable for burning in the nearby Energy Recovery Plant, or for recycling.

The first phase was constructed in 2006, with a second following in 2012.

A report to councillors on the SIC’s policy and resources committee said it is expected that the second phase will reach capacity in 2026.

It is suggested that ground works for a third phase would need to begin in 2024/25. A rough estimate for the construction of a third phase is around £2 million.

It could offer 15,000 square metres of capacity, which may last 15 years.

The report adds that although the Scottish Government is aiming to significantly reduce the amount of waste going to landfill over the next 10 to 15 years, the need for one in Shetland “would still be essential over this next period”.

The site currently takes in an average of 14,464 tonnes every year including construction and fish farm waste, as well as sewage sludge from the water treatment plant. It is also licensed to accept bonded asbestos.

The site is also used for temporarily storing waste destined for the Energy Recovery Plant, which burns rubbish to power the Lerwick district heating scheme.

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If there was no capacity left, the council would have to pay “significant gate fees” at a landfill site on the mainland, as well as shipping costs.

Using the Stoneyhill landfill site in Aberdeenshire could cost more than £1.8 million a year if all of the waste going to landfill in Gremista had to be sent south.

Add in transport and under a best case scenario it could cost the council £2.5 million a year for transport and disposal of waste at a landfill site on the mainland – while it would cause freight capacity issues on the NorthLink ferries in addition to have a carbon impact.

There would also be additional costs for storing waste which would be sent away.

Councillors were told that design work should proceed “as soon as possible”.

At Monday’s meeting environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall noted how the landfill brings in income to the council.

The meeting heard that the fee at the site is £162 per tonne of waste, although £100 of this is said to go on government tax.

Lyall said that landfill is something “we have to have” and added that it was “important that we get on with this quickly”.

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