A £7 million waste handling centre – creating up to 30 jobs – is likely to be located at a former landfill site in Inverness.
The Longman location, near to the Inverness Caledonian Thistle stadium, is the favoured option for an interim solution to a ban on burying domestic waste which will be introduced in January 2021.
In the long term, Highland Council aims to build a waste-to-energy plant, currently estimated at £88m.
Councillors will be asked today to agree to the former Longman landfill site being the preferred option for the so-called materials recovery facility for biodegradable municipal waste.
Planning officers have been exploring various options within the Inner Moray Firth area for a site to deal with the 83,000 tonnes of waste generated annually in the Highlands – and currently sent to landfill at a cost of £80 per tonne.
By law councils won’t be able to bury municipal waste, mostly from households, in landfill sites from January 2021.
With the ban announced in 2012, Highland Council has – by its own admission – been late in facing up to its future waste management strategy.
Since January, council officers have been working on options which include the construction of a £7m Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to recover recyclates and produce Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF).
These products will be transported to “end-users” in England or mainland Europe.
This facility is projected to be ready in 2022, so interim contracts are to be issued to third parties to deal with the waste until then.
Longer term, the proposal is to construct an Energy from Waste (EfW) facility on the same site. This would supply heat locally, at an extra construction cost of £88m. From planning to operation, it would take an estimated seven years to get up and running.
Environment, development and infrastructure chairman Allan Henderson said the Longman site – owned by the city’s common good fund – seemed the most appropriate location for the new waste handling centre.
He said: “It seems ideal given the road infrastructure already in place, and will cause the least disruption to the public.
“It will ultimately be a massive shed, but we will be looking to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
“The ultimate goal is to get a waste to energy plant, so we can deliver cheaper fuel to the public. We must go down this route given the new laws coming in in 2021.”
He added: “there is also the benefit that it will be creating between 20 to 30 jobs.”
The environment, development and infrastructure committee will meet today to discuss the Longman proposal.
Councillors are also being asked to instruct officials to investigate further plans for a waste to energy plant at the Longman site to deal.