THE idea of a new 'transfer station' in Helensburgh to deal with the area's biodegradable waste looks unlikely to go ahead – even though the local council admits it faces a "huge" challenge to comply with new rules on the issue.

A ban on biodegradable waste being sent to landfill comes into effect across Scotland in January 2021 – and Argyll and Bute Council is to spend six weeks this spring consulting local residents on a proposed new waste strategy for the whole council area.

However, that strategy is unlikely to include the building of a new waste transfer station at Blackhill, north of Helensburgh.

A report to the local authority's environment, development and infrastructure (ED&I) committee on the proposed new strategy says that recycling rates in the area have already improved since a move to three-weekly bin collections – a measure which sparked widespread anger in Helensburgh when it was introduced locally in 2016.

The report also says council officials have investigated the possibility of building a new 'waste transfer station' at Blackhill, just to the north of Helensburgh – but that such a move is not worth pursuing because of the costs involved.

Instead the authority is suggesting that it work jointly with the councils in neighbouring West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde to find a suitable contractor for a new 'energy for waste' (EfW) method of disposal where waste is used to generate power.

The report, considered by the ED&I committee at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Thursday, states: "This change will have significant cost implications for the council as we will have to find an alternative way to dispose of waste, and it remains to be seen whether we will receive any additional funding from the Scottish Government to help us do this. In particular, the cost implications for the waste service on islands are potentially huge because of the need to transport waste off islands."

"The option to construct and operate a waste transfer site at either of the Blackhill sites would require a significant upfront capital investment.

"As a result of the financial burden of constructing and operating this option it is not considered cost effective to pursue this option further.

"The option that offers best total value for money over the longest possible term for Helensburgh and Lomond’s residual waste is the proposed joint procurement of residual waste disposal service with neighbouring authorities.

"Under the proposal it’s anticipated that Argyll and Bute would collaborate with West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde Council in the procurement of a suitable contractor; separate contracts will be put in place with each authority."

It is estimated that a 10-year EfW contract for Helensburgh and Lomond's biodegradable waste would cost the local authority around £1.3 million.

Councillor Roddy McCuish, Argyll and Bute's policy lead for roads and amenity services, said: “I would urge people to take part in the consultation, which will be promoted through social media and our community councils.

“This is something that affects everyone. From reducing waste in homes and businesses, to improving our recycling efforts, and the disposal services offered by the council, we all play an important role. The ambitious targets facing us can’t be achieved in isolation.”