Parliamentary Bureau Motion

– in the Scottish Parliament at 4:58 pm on 15th March 2006.

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Photo of George Reid George Reid None 4:58 pm, 15th March 2006

The next item of business is consideration of Parliamentary Bureau motion S2M-4108, on approval of a Scottish statutory instrument.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament agrees that the draft Renewable Obligations (Scotland) Order 2006 be approved.—[Ms Margaret Curran.]

Photo of Shiona Baird Shiona Baird Green 5:00 pm, 15th March 2006

Although there is a great deal in the draft Renewable Obligations (Scotland) Order 2006 that the Green group commends, we regret that there is an article in it that we cannot support because it has no place in a renewables obligation order. Although we whole-heartedly support renewable sources of energy, the use of renewables obligation funding for waste incineration is wrong. Waste can never be defined as a renewable resource and I am surprised that Mr Wilson and others who love to appear to be green are going along with it. Such a move undermines the good work that is taking place throughout Scotland to find sustainable answers to our waste problem. I urge members to reject the motion and at least give the Scottish Executive time to reconsider its untenable position.

Photo of Nicol Stephen Nicol Stephen Liberal Democrat 5:01 pm, 15th March 2006

I am grateful for the opportunity to explain a little more of the background to the proposed amendments to the order in response to Shiona Baird. The background to the order is the proposal to reduce the current purity threshold for biomass fuel from 98 per cent to 90 per cent. The reason for doing that is to expand the range of eligible fuels and maximise the potential contribution to the renewables obligation from waste woods. An obvious example of the type of material in question would be discarded wooden kitchen units, which might contain small amounts of other materials that would prevent them from qualifying as a fuel under the current definition. It makes perfect sense to me that such material should be put to use to produce renewable electricity rather than going to landfill. It also made sense to our consultees, a clear majority of whom supported the change.

I hope that what I have said addresses Shiona Baird's concerns. It should also be remembered that all the generating stations involved would remain subject to the same stringent controls regarding emissions as their conventional counterparts.

I am happy to provide a little more detail on the eligibility of the output from the biomass element of the waste consumed by energy-from-waste plants that use good-quality combined heat and power. In this instance, our amendment to the order will offer a real incentive to the developers of energy-from-waste plants to incorporate good-quality combined heat and power as part of their design. The obligation change will apply only to the biomass element of the waste consumed, but it will encourage the whole of the heat output to be captured and put to good use. That is a very sustainable outcome and I am sure that Shiona Baird and her colleagues will applaud it.

Last week, at the Enterprise and Culture Committee, Allan Wilson helpfully provided an example of the type of project that will benefit from the amendment: the Lerwick district heating scheme, which is run by Shetland Islands Council. The plant is powered by waste and provides heat for homes, schools, a hospital and a range of other users. Our amendment will provide the means and potential to support more of that sort of scheme in other areas in future.

Photo of George Reid George Reid None

The question on the motion will be put at decision time.