The future looks bright, the future looks green. Or at least it did until a couple of weeks ago when Scottish Borders Council pulled the plug on plans for a state-of-the-art £23million advanced thermal treatment facility to deal with around 25,000 tonnes of our biodegradable municipal waste every year. The deal included turning the gas that would be produced by the process into electricity worth an estimated £80million a year.
It all looked good on paper, but four years down the line, and after hundreds of man hours and £2million of public money being swallowed up by the project, the council has called it a day.
It was a pioneering project, and sometimes you have to be bold and visionary when looking for long-term solutions.
However, the question is should our council have been taking such risks with ordinary taxpayers’ money? Money that could have been used to fund other seriously stretched services, such as our roads infrastructure, schools, social services, or even to reinstate green waste collections.
Andrew Farquhar and Councillor Watson McAteer may have a point in wanting the whole process to be referred to the spending watchdog Audit Scotland.
Officers who may have been involved in the process may not be the best people to conduct an ‘appropriate review’.
Sometimes, an independent outside opinion is the only way we will listen – and learn.