Scottish Conservatives representing island communities have expressed fears that the capacity of their local ferries may be over-stretched by a Scottish Government commitment to send waste to England for recycling.
Councillor Alastair Redman (Kintyre and the Islands ward) of Argyll and Bute Council and Donald Cameron MSP (Highlands and Islands,) are concerned that the need to transport waste by ferry could result in problems for local businesses which need to transport goods to the mainland.
Councillor Redman, a resident of Islay, said: “Our ferries are already under pressure due to the growth in whisky production from the island’s many distilleries. They simply have to get their products to market and cannot afford delays. We are experiencing a boom in tourism with many more campervans coming on to the islands. If we have to export our waste as well then we could have a real problem if the ferries are full up with bin lorries.
“While I can sympathise with a commitment to recycle waste, it makes no sense to send rubbish as far as England via ferry and road from somewhere like Islay, if it is only going to end up as landfill. How does that help the planet?”
Mr Cameron said: “In order to meet a planned ban on Scottish household waste going to landfill by 2021, it seems much of it will simply end up going to landfill south of the border instead.
“Less than half of Scotland's 32 councils have plans in place to meet the 2021 target and, if that wasn’t bad enough, the Scottish Government appears not to have thought through the implications for our creaking transport infrastructure in the Highlands and Islands.
“Alastair is quite right to sound the alarm given it’s already a matter of concern to COSLA which has stated that it does not believe the ban is achievable.
Mr Cameron also revealed that he was aware of concerns in the Western Isles about how waste would be tackled.
“It is not at all clear what will happen to waste from the Western Isles. This could be a huge extra burden for a small local authority which is already finding coping with its existing commitments a real struggle.
“The SNP Government has a track record of making bold announcements without putting in place the practical means to achieve their aims, and with little understanding of the implications for organisations, especially businesses, which stand to be affected.
“I intend to raise this issue in Parliament so that we can debate it properly and give our ferry operators and the councils involved a chance to have their voices heard.”