‘Delighted’ campaigners are celebrating a decision to refuse an incinerator proposed for North Horsham made by county councillors today (Tuesday June 19).
Britaniacrest is looking to build a recycling, recovery and renewable energy facility at the former Wealden Brickworks site off Langhurstwood Road to handle 230,000 tonnes of residual waste a year.
Nearly 1,200 objections were received by West Sussex County Council, while a petition opposing the plans was signed by 4,532 people.
Concerns included the impact on new and existing residents, the area’s landscape, highway capacity and road safety, noise, air quality, human health, the environment and whether the facility was needed.
The application was rejected by the authority’s planning committee by eight votes to four today (Tuesday June 19) to rapturous applause in the public gallery.
Afterwards Sally Pavey, from No Incinerator 4 Horsham, said: “We are delighted our voices and residents’ voices have been heard.”
She also thanked councillors who voted to refuse the application and listened to objectors.
She said they were ‘under no illusion’ Britaniacrest would appeal, but also called the committee decision a ‘victory for democracy’ and a ‘step in the right direction’.
County councillor Peter Catchpole, who represents Holbrook, added: “I think the 5,500 people who said no will be reassured that democracy has a point to make.”
He argued communities were at a massive disadvantage when opposing such technical applications. He said: “I think that should be something looked into so communities can get access to knowledge and information.”
Britaniacrest Recycling director Chris Foss said: “We are very disappointed that the planning committee members have not granted permission for this facility. This is in spite of the fact that the site is already operating as a waste management site with no change in waste volumes or vehicle numbers being requested in the application.
“Without this modernisation of the site, the recycling activity will continue outdoors and waste will continue to be exported out of county and aboard - which is truly disappointing. We will now consider the situation and decide whether to proceed with an appeal against the decision or just continue under the existing planning permissions.”
Andrew Barrett-Miles (Con, Burgess Hill North) said no evidence had been provided to show the majority of processed material would originate in West Sussex.
Meanwhile George Barton (Con, Sompting and North Lancing) suggested they also refuse the application on highway capacity, road safety, landscape, public health and residential amenity grounds.
Liz Kitchen (Con, St Leonard’s Forest), vice-chair of the committee, added: “The whole thing is an absolute disaster and it’s the wrong place for it.”
Joy Dennis (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Bolney) raised the awaited Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs resources and waste strategy, which some believe will signal a shift away from incinerators and landfills. She also asked if there is a need for an incinerator in West Sussex with similar facilities in neighbouring counties currently operating under capacity.
Britaniacrest’s first application was withdrawn before a decision could be made as planning officers raised concerns about landscape impact and lack of detail about potential noise.
Plans were then revised and resubmitted.
Officers explained how the revised building had been reduced in height and clad in ‘autumnal colours’, there would be an ‘imperceptible’ increase in noise levels, while the number of lorry movements would be the same as previously permitted.They described how emissions would be regulated by the Environment Agency and the applicant had demonstrated the main structure would not be able to be seen from the majority of views outside of the site.
Agent Dan Smyth, of RPS Group, described how they had used ‘good quality architectural design to break up the building into smaller components’.
He added: “You will have seen from your site visit how well it is screened from the surrounding area. We can’t make it invisible but we have done our best to minimise its height and visual impact and in this case the form simply follows the function.”
Meanwhile Keith Riley, from Britaniacrest, said: “The unfortunate thing about waste management is there is no do-nothing solution. Despite great efforts to recycle as much as possible residual waste is still produced in great quantities and still has to be dealt with.”
He described how they had gone back to the drawing board and responding to all the points raised by officers about their first application.
But Norman Clarke, from No Incinerator 4 Horsham, suggested very little had changed and argued the buildings would ‘no more blend in with its surroundings than an ocean liner in the desert’.
Ray Turner, speaking on behalf of North Horsham Parish Council, called the scheme ‘unsightly and totally out of keeping with the area’ and felt it would have a ‘devastating impact on the local landscape and environment’.
David Johnson, chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Sussex branch, said each statutory authority was ‘passing the buck from one to the other’, while the information and assessment on pollution provided by the applicant was ‘found wanting’.
Mr Catchpole described the proposal as a ‘visually colossal ugly incinerator’. He added: “This development is the wrong technology in the wrong place squeezed on too small a site.”