A public inquiry into plans to build an incinerator on the edge of Horsham begins today.
In June 2018, West Sussex County Council rejected an application from Britaniacrest to build a recycling, recovery and renewable energy centre at the former Wealden Brickworks site off Langhurstwood Road.
An appeal was launched and an inquiry will now be heard at Horsham Sports Club, in Cricketfield Road. It is expected to run until at least Tuesday November 12.
Campaign group No Incinerator 4 Horsham has been fighting the proposals since they were first put forward four years ago, with concerns about the impact an incinerator would have on pollution, the environment and the climate.
Chairman Peter Catchpole said: “Over a number of decades Horsham has been taking the burden of the disposal of residential waste at the Brookhurst Wood landfill site for all West Sussex residents.
“From a waste perspective it could be said that Horsham has been consuming the smoke of the whole of West Sussex.
“What is now unacceptable is the proposal to consume the smoke of commercial and industrial waste in south east England through this market-driven incinerator development, that is not linked to any West Sussex County Council or other public sector service contract.
“Rightly local people are concerned about their future wellbeing and that of future generations if the incinerator comes to this area and the wholesale change of character that would be brought to our market town.
“It would be out of keeping with its surroundings, the massive structure would overwhelm existing buildings in the surrounding area and would have a significant adverse impact on views.
“The incinerator, at the building stage, will impact the lives of local residents for three years with traffic disruption, noise and dust.
“Once complete, it will be with us for at least 30 years and no matter how they try and camouflage or reshape this colossus of a building it is still just an ugly oversized incinerator that does not fit onto its site nor in scale or tune with the local surroundings.
“Over the past two years there have been two consultations regarding this incinerator application and the response from the residents of Horsham has been an overwhelming objection to the development of this incinerator in north Horsham.
“It is by far the largest reaction to any planning application I have seen in my 14 years as county councillor for Holbrook.
“Over 5,500 residents have rejected this application either by direct objection to the planners or by signing a petition.
“This overwhelming ‘no’ vote is democracy at work and should be given the authority it deserves and fully respected.
“Our community is at a huge disadvantage to Britaniacrest, who are making this appeal, as they have very deep pockets and have instructed one of the best QCs in the country to make their pitch.
“However, through our fundraising events, public donations and pledges of financial support we have almost raised sufficient money so that we can afford a barrister and technical experts, to fully represent local residents in presenting the excellent case and the powerful reasons for rejection can be given full weight.”
Chris Foss, director of Britaniacrest Recycling, said: “This public inquiry will be an opportunity for evidence to be presented and fully examined.
“There’s a pressing need in West Sussex and the south of England as a whole, for new waste infrastructure to treat non-recyclable waste.
“At present there’s very little landfill space available between West Sussex and Dorset, so this county is now exporting all its non-recyclable waste for disposal – some to Surrey and the rest to European Energy from Waste plants.
“In our opinion this cannot continue, and we look forward to presenting our case during this inquiry.
“In re-submitting our application, we had hoped our careful redesign had addressed the visual elements of the scheme.
“We trust the inspector will agree with our experts and the council officers who recommended approval after he has heard the evidence.”
The inquiry will start at 10am today (October 29). Members of the public are welcome to attend.
Karen Dunn , Local Democracy Reporting Service