LETTER: Waste sites hit home prices

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Dr Richardson in his letter (3.11.16, pp34-35) rightly raised the connection shown in research for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (and reported in The Times) between the close proximity of a waste site to residences and house prices. The report also validated the health implications of landfill sites.

In the context of BritianiaCrest’s proposal for a mass waste burner in North Horsham there are a number of quality academic research papers investigating the connection between incinerators located close to housing and the resulting impact on house prices.

One academic paper by Katherine A. Kiel and Katherine T. McClain (Journal of Environmental, Economics and Management, 1995, Vol 28, pp241-255 www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095069685710169) studied a site in the USA where the landfill site was coming to the end of its life and an incinerator was proposed. This is rather similar to the situation here in Horsham.

Kiel and McClain in their research found that: ‘a decline in residential estate values in proximity to an ‘undesirable’ facility is well documented.’ They quote other studies but wanted to know when the decline starts, how long it persists and if/when house prices recover.

They concluded from their data that there is strong evidence that house prices are affected from the first rumours of a development and the trend continues for seven years after the facility opens.

Another academic study by Janet Curie et al (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 18700, January 2013, www.nber.org/papers/w18700) measured the housing market and health impacts of 1,600 openings and closings of industrial plants that emit toxic pollutants: ‘We find that housing values within one mile decrease by 1.5 percent when plants open, and increase by 1.5 percent when plants close. This implies an aggregate loss in housing values per plant of about $1.5 million. While the housing value impacts are concentrated within 1/2 mile, we find statistically significant infant health impacts up to one mile away.’

Anyone entering the debate on this subject should take a calm and sober look at the growing number of research findings.

For instance, the HM Government report cited by Dr Richardson found that landfills reduce the value of housing by a total of £2.5 billion and in Scotland houses are worth on average 40 per cent less if they are close to a landfill site.

The studies quoted above show that the siting of incinerators close to housing has a direct impact on house prices from the initial rumours of a build to well after the plant has opened.

WSCC’s small planning committee will make the planning decision but Horsham District Council are significant consultees. We have every right to ask what the Leader Cllr Ray Dawe and Cllr Cornell, the cabinet member for waste and refuse collection, are doing to stop further dumping in North Horsham.

Valerie Wise (Mrs)

Owlscastle Close, Horsham

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