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Edinburgh City Council Midlothian

Public Gives Zero Waste Site the Green Light

12 March 2010

A survey commissioned by the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils and conducted by Keep Scotland Beautiful, has shown that the majority of the public understand the need to move away from landfilling of waste and the benefits of using a mix of technologies in order to treat waste as a resource in the future.

The first phase of this research, initiated by Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian, looked at public attitudes to residual waste treatment and the potential development of a Zero Waste Parc (Prevention and Recycling Centre) near Millerhill in Midlothian.  It is envisaged that a mix of technologies could be built on that site to increase recycling and to recover energy from the waste that is currently landfilled.

Only two per cent of those surveyed disagreed the Millerhill site would be a suitable location to build a residual waste facility.  In addition, only 1 per cent of those surveyed felt using Energy from Waste, as an alternative to landfill, was very unacceptable.  96 per cent of all those surveyed agreed that being able to utilise heat from this type of facility to heat local homes is a good idea.

The 455 door-step surveys took place throughout Edinburgh and Midlothian over December 2009 and January 2010.

Councillor Robert Aldridge said; "I'm really pleased that there is so much support for making best use our residual waste. The public have already enthusiastically embraced the recycling message. These results indicate that they are overwhelmingly on board in supporting measures for dealing with residual waste in the most environmentally effective way."

Councillor Russell Imrie said; "I've been saying for years that this approach is a sensible way forward.  The public clearly understand this.  They have seen through the scaremongering of certain pressure groups in the past, and made up their own minds as to what is best for their future.  We are here to listen to them and make sure we deliver a solution that is both value for money and the best environmental option too."

Dr Nicki Souter from  Keep Scotland Beautiful, said; "We undertook this survey to establish the attitudes of the people of Edinburgh and Midlothian to how the Council handles waste and what it plans to do with residual waste.  The information that has been gleaned around residual waste treatment is really useful for us.  The national Zero Waste Plan will be published later this year and will go a long way to helping us all treat our waste more sustainably as is clearly the public's desire too."

Other questions looked at the public's understanding of the different reasons behind moving away from landfill, the types of technology available to treat waste, the suitability of the proposed project site at Millerhill and the potential development of a Zero Waste Parc. 

The Councils now intend to apply for planning permission in principle for the Millerhill site which, if approved, will then be offered to the market as a suitable location on which to develop waste treatment facilities. These facilities will likely consist of a mix of technologies such as Energy From Waste, Mechanical Biological Treatment and Anaerobic Digestion.

Key findings are listed in the notes below and the report is available by contacting Kelly Murphy on 0131 5297856 or

The full survey results and report will be published in full in the coming weeks.


Notes to Editors

This survey was commissioned by the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils to question a representative sample of the population to identify current waste management behaviour as well as attitudes to a range of waste management services.

455 people were surveyed across Edinburgh and Midlothian.  A number of extra surveys were carried out closer to the project site to establish if there was a substantial difference in opinion between local residents and the wider population.

Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian is about to enter into a procurement process to identify a suitable contractor to deliver a residual waste treatment solution for this area.  A project site, a disused marshalling yard near Millerhill, has been identified.  An application for planning permission in principle will be lodged next month for the site.

For more information on the specific technologies please visit

Keep Scotland Beautiful's key findings were that;

A huge majority of those surveyed (96 per cent) stated that utilising the heat produced for local homes/businesses was a good idea.

Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed said that the Millerhill site was a suitable location for the proposed development.  There was a slight difference with those living close to the site where 85 per cent agreed the site was a suitable location.

Over 66 per cent of those surveyed felt that the construction of a Zero Waste Parc at Millerhill was either very acceptable or acceptable with another 25 per cent being neutral on the subject.

Only two per cent of those surveyed disagreed that the proposed project site at Millerhill was a suitable location.

The level of interest surrounding the development of the Zero Waste Parc was very encouraging with seven out of ten respondents saying they were interested to be kept informed of its progress.  This rose to almost eight in ten closer to the site. 

Work needs to be done on increasing the publics awareness of just what happens the waste they throw away.  Whilst more then 60 per cent of people understood this waste went to landfill most believed the reasons for moving away from landfill was due to a lack of space, which is only one element to a much larger problem.

There was a good understanding that Councils could be fined for sending waste to landfill in the future.  Those living closer to the site had a higher awareness of this, potentially attributable to the direct communications work which is being carried out in the area in advance of the planning permission for the site being submitted.

Nearly 80 per cent of all of those surveyed felt that it was either a very good or good idea to develop the Zero Waste Parc. 

70 per cent of respondents stated that Energy from Waste was either a 'very acceptable' or 'acceptable' alternative to landfilling.  Another 25 per cent remained neutral, with only one per cent saying it was 'very unacceptable'.

Nearly three quarters of all those surveyed felt that a small, local facility where waste would not have to be transported great distances would be advantageous.  This rose to over 80 per cent closer the site, potentially indicating a better understanding due to local engagement by the project team in the area.