A SCOTTISH Government minister has refused to say whether the controversial Killoch incinerator plans will be blocked.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens’ co-leader and minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, was pressed on the issue by a Labour MSP during a debate in Holyrood after delivering the Government’s response to a publication released last month calling for a ban on new waste incinerators in Scotland.

The report, ‘Stop, Sort, Burn, Bury? The Independent Review of the Role of Incineration in the Waste Hierarchy in Scotland’, authored by Dr Colin Church, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to look at management of residual waste (waste not recycled or reused) in Scotland.

Dr Church said in his report: “Effective immediately, the Scottish Government should ensure that no further planning permission (i.e. beyond that already in place) is granted to incineration infrastructure within the scope of this Review unless balanced by an equal or greater closure of capacity.”

The Government’s response to that, published last week, says: “The Scottish Government accepts this recommendation while remaining conscious of relevant statutory obligations which must apply to all planning decisions.

“The Review makes it clear that Scotland does not need additional municipal waste incineration facilities to treat our unavoidable and unrecyclable municipal residual waste beyond those for which planning permission has already been granted, with limited exceptions and mindful that there will be a short-term capacity gap in 2025.”

With that statement in mind, South Scotland Labour MSP Carol Mochan sought assurances from Ms Slater that this would mean the scrapping of Barr’s plans for the Killoch site in Ochiltree.

The company’s application for planning permission is awaiting a decision from East Ayrshire Council.

Ms Mochan said: “It is welcome that the Scottish Government has accepted the recommendations made in the review, although it remains unfortunate that the Scottish Greens have yet again had to be forced into backing a policy that just last year they committed to support in their manifesto.”Today’s announcement will be welcomed by campaigners whom I have campaigned with many times at the Killoch site in Ochiltree, but surely given the report, the minister can categorically confirm today that the notification directive on planning permission will mean the proposed incinerator development at this site will not go ahead.”

In response, Ms Slater said: “The member will know that I cannot comment on the merits of any particular proposed development. I’m not allowed to comment on any particular thing, that is against the rules.

“I know that many members of the Labour benches will feel frustrated as they watch on from the sidelines as Greens in Government deliver real determined action to deliver a greener Scotland. But for once perhaps they should welcome progress rather than manufacture complaints.

“The Scottish Greens made a manifesto commitment last year to oppose the construction of new incinerators. We’ve delivered on that and more, as I have set out to date, implementing the recommendations made in the independent review that I commissioned and that includes no further planning permission for incineration facilities and setting an indicative cap.”

Last month, in a consultation response, NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s respiratory managed clinical network (MCN) objected to the proposals, saying that the plans would lead to increased “exposure to particulate airborne pollutants”.