SNP Group Leader at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Councillor Gordon Murray, has written to Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP asking her to assist the local authority in hitting its green targets.

Currently the council is footing an annual bill of over £100,000 to transport recyclable waste to the mainland while at the same time trying to increase levels of recycling and reduce waste going to landfill.

Councillor Murray is asking the Scottish Government to consider allowing the additional export costs to be reclaimed from the landfill tax.

In the letter to Ms Cunningham he states: “Currently, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar pay approximately £1,000,000 in landfill tax and are actively looking to reduce this by increasing the participation of the public in our recycling collection services. 

“As much of the recyclable waste needs to be exported by ferry to the mainland, this puts an additional £101,000 per annum transport cost on a budget that could otherwise be used to address public participation and potential income generation. Our recycling plans are ambitious to see this happening but budget constraints, such as paying for exportation, are denying the achievement of these ambitious goals and objectives.”

He points out that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was the first local authority in Scotland to build a dry Anaerobic Digester to process municipal food waste, and that improving participation rates not only reduces the costs per tonne of operating the plant, it also increases the production of biogas at the Creed Park Anaerobic Digester, which will be used to produce electricity and ultimately, produce hydrogen to fuel the collection vehicles.

He added: “As mainland based local authorities have no such financial issues with transportation, I would like to ask if you could consider the additional export costs be reclaimed from the landfill tax. With this money, we could not only explore a green transport energy strategy but also set greater recycling targets and explore potential income generation working in partnership with the local college and other Community Planning Partners.”