Decision looms for Horsham incinerator

Youngsters joined the protest in Horsham
Youngsters joined the protest in Horsham

With a decision set to be made on whether an incinerator will be built in Horsham the County Times takes a look at the arguments for and against.

Plans have been put forward by Britaniacrest Recycling to create a Recycling, Recovery and Renewable Energy facility at the former Wealden Brickworks in Langhurstwood Road.

The facility will see 230,000 tonnes of waste collected and processed with around 50,000 tonnes being recycled and the remaining 180,000 burnt to create electricity.

The application is one of the biggest to affect the area since the North of Horsham plans and officers have recommended the development for approval.

However, campaigners have raised multiple concerns over the size of the building, the impact on traffic and the potential increase in pollution.

Councillors will make a final decision on the plans at West Sussex County Council’s planning meeting tomorrow (June 19). More details on the meeting here

Below are the latest arguments for and against the proposals.

What campaigners say

Plans to build an incinerator in Horsham have not come without opposition.

Many concerns have been raised by campaigners over the size of the building, the impact on the environment and the effects of possible pollution being pumped out of the chimney.

Campaign group No Incinerator 4 Horsham, set up after the first plans were submitted in 2016, has voiced opposition, saying the building will be a ‘visual carbuncle’ for Sussex and Surrey and it did not want Horsham becoming a ‘dumping ground for waste from other counties’.

Concerns were also raised around pollution and traffic issues being created by HGV movement.

Campaign to Protect Rural England also objected stating the burning of materials will create ‘an environmental horror story’ with a ‘toxic cloud’ over Horsham.

A spokesman for No Incinerator 4 Horsham said: “Nothing much has changed from the original application, in fact councillors have not been provided with any independent reports or given any independent expert talks about the impact of burning on recycling. They are going to make a decision on Tuesday blind to the full facts and long term environmental ramifications.

Campaign to Protect Rural England Sussex’s Dr Roger Smith says the facility would be “an environmental horror story.”

He said: “The cumulative impact of dioxins and of any other persistent pollutants emitted by the facility, after coming to earth, seems not to have been assessed.”

Keith Taylor, a Green MEP for the South East, added his ‘wholehearted solidarity in their fight’.

He said: “Incineration is the filthiest way to produce electricity and goes against the Government’s advice to local councils on decarbonising local energy production.”

“We urgently have to reduce the amount of waste we’re producing and prioritise recycling, reuse, composting and other more creative solutions.”

What developers say

Britaniacrest Recycling has expressed the ‘urgent’ need for the facility in the area.

It says with no landfills left in the south of the country and tonnes of waste being exported abroad the country is supplying Europe with ‘cheap fuel’.

The firm said there were lessons to be learnt from David Attenborough’s Blue Plane and China’s new waste restrictions. It claims the facility will be able to remove plastics from the environment which is damaging wildlife and also act as a solution for transporting waste abroad.

It says concerns around pollution are ‘scaremongering’ and that the main products coming out of the stack will be water and carbon dioxide, with any possible pollution ‘very low’.

Richard Foss, Director of Britaniacrest, said: “We now have to export most of the residual waste we handle to Holland and Germany.

“Exports are booming. Last month we sent nearly 170 vehicles across the Channel. If they were carrying goods, that would be great but they weren’t – it was waste, and that costs us all money.

“We had developed our export business based on the waste we convert into refuse derived fuel (RDF) from our commercial collections. This is sent to energy recovery plants in Europe.

“In consequence, we had the contacts and when the county council advertised for contractors to dispose of their waste, we were well placed to respond. This sounds great – and it is good for Britaniacrest – but we have to pay the Dutch and the

Germans to take the RDF and we pass that cost back to the shops and businesses that we collect from, and now the County Council. So we now have a situation, where the householder is effectively paying for the electricity that powers German homes.”

“The reason for this is that we just do not have anywhere in this country to send the RDF. We are trying to avoid landfill – and in the case of the WSCC contract we are obliged to make sure that no more than 5 per cent is landfilled.

“That’s why we need the 3Rs recycling and energy recovery facility so badly. There is urgent need in West Sussex for such a plant and the location at Langhurstwood Road is probably one of the best to be found anywhere.

“It will minimise the number of vehicles on the road and enable us to put waste to good use in this country.

“We are proposing proven technology, because we have to know it will work.

“There is a lot of talk about it at the moment, but once it’s built, very few will know it is even there.”