Two-month wait for Horsham incinerator campaigners

Campaigners face a two-month wait to find out if plans for a waste incinerator north of Horsham will be approved.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 1:57 pm

In June, 2018, West Sussex County Council turned down an application from Britaniacrest to build a recycling, recovery and renewable energy centre at the former Wealden Brickworks site, off Langhurstwood Road.

Britaniacrest appealed, leading to a two-week public inquiry, chaired by planning inspector Ian Jenkins, which ended on Wednesday (November 14).

The inquiry was something of a David v Goliath battle, with campaign group No Incinerator For Horsham (Ni4H) using social media and organising events to help raise enough money to pay for a barrister.

Chairman Peter Catchpole said the group was ‘optimistic for a positive result’, adding that Mr Jenkins’ decision to pay day and night visits to the proposed site was ‘reassuring and much appreciated’.

Describing the inquiry as ‘not the easiest of environments’ for residents to share their concerns, he added: “The planning inspector was as accommodating as possible in making people feel comfortable, but if residents did give evidence they had to consider if they would accept cross examination from Britaniacrest’s barrister in order to add more weight to their views.

“The process is not meant to be adversarial but inquisitorial.

“However, despite this many members of our community did come forward and made their feelings known to the Inspector about the impact that building this incinerator would have on their daily lives.”

Two consultations about the application have been held over the past two years and there have been more than 7,700 objections, including two petitions.

Mr Catchpole, who is county councillor for Holbrook, said this was ‘by far the largest reaction to any planning application’ he had seen in his 14 years with the authority.

He said: “This is an overwhelming ‘no’ vote. It is local democracy at work and we asked the inspector to give this the weight it deserved.”

If Mr Jenkins finds in favour of Britaniacrest, the incinerator would deal with up to 230,000 tonnes of waste per year, generating around 21MW of electricity by burning any rubbish it could not recycle.

The building itself would be almost 36m (117ft) high with a chimney stack up to 95m (311ft) tall.

Anjoli Foster, representing the council, told the inquiry the centre would have an ‘unacceptable impact’ on the area, causing ‘significant harm’.

Mr Catchpole said: “We are confident from many submissions made by residents, that the inspector will have understood the concerns that local people have about their future wellbeing if the incinerator comes to this area, the wholesale change of character that would be brought to our market town, how it would be out of keeping with its surroundings and the massive structure would overwhelm existing buildings in the surrounding area and would have a significant adverse impact on our beautiful views.

“We hope these heartfelt views and the more formal input from Ni4H and council barristers will sway the inspector to reject this appeal. We remain optimistic for a positive result.”

Chris Foss, director of Britaniacrest Recycling, said that, while the company disagreed with arguments made by Ni4H, they ‘appreciated them acting with integrity throughout the inquiry’.   

He added: “We have agreed to a series of additional conditions to show we’re firmly committed to developing a state-of-the-art 3Rs facility, which if granted planning permission, will provide an essential function to treat non-recyclable waste in an environmentally responsible way.  

“We now look forward to the inspector’s report.”

Fundraiser Rock Off 2 will be held at Warnham Comrades Club, in Hollands Way, on Friday November 22 from 7.30pm to midnight. The Tube Snake Boogie Band will be supported by Lightning. Tickets cost £5. For details email [email protected]