Incinerator plans ‘a big step back’

Keith Taylor MEP
Keith Taylor MEP

A new incinerator in Horsham would be a ‘big step back on sustainability’, according to a member of the European Parliament.

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, has criticised plans for the proposed new facility in Langhurstwood Road put forward by Britaniacrest Recycling.

The waste management firm has submitted an application to West Sussex County Council to build a new 24-hour Recycling, Recovery and Renewable Energy facility at the site of the former Wealden Brickworks.

The senior Green politician, who is a member of European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, has written to the council urging them to reject the proposals, stating they are “at odds with EU-wide efforts to build the sustainable economies necessary to avoid the very worst effects of the climate breakdown”.

He said: “The community in Horsham fought an incinerator in the early 2000s, another application last year and is facing the same fight again today. Greens stood with residents in the past and, as a Green, I stand with residents today.

“These proposals make no practical, economic or environmental sense. I am urging West Sussex County Council to reject them out of hand and embrace the transition towards a sustainable economy.”

Mr Taylor has written to the council just days after voting in the European Parliament to strengthen the EU’s commitment to the ‘circular economy,’ which sets binding targets for reducing, reusing and recycling waste rather than burning it or sending it to landfill.

He said: “Embracing incineration is an unwelcome and toxic, literally and metaphorically, distraction from the concerted efforts we must make to promote and facilitate waste reduction, recycling, reuse, composting and other more creative solutions on the path to ‘zero waste’ by 2050.”

Developer Liberty Property Trust, which is set to build 2,750 new homes north of the town complete with new schools, a business park and recreational spaces, has raised concerns about the facility which will be built right on its doorstep.

A petition put forward by residents opposing the plans has gained almost 3,000 signatures.

Mr Taylor continued: “The industrial site will tower above the treeline of its rural setting, which is less than 5km from the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It will also damage the character of the surrounding Horsham and Warnham areas.

“I must also highlight Friends of Warnham Local Nature Reserve’s concerns about the environmental effects of discharges from the proposed incinerator on the Nature Reserve and its 400 species of plants, 100 species of bird and 21 species of dragonfly.”

He added: “Ultimately, I am deeply concerned about the harmful emissions from the incineration processes on site. It’s also of great concern that the emissions assessment has been carried out miles away from the actual site. Heavy metals, acidic gases, and poisons will be belched out into a high population area, with a nearby nursery and primary school.

“On a practical note, there is already more incineration capacity in the South East than is currently used. Even if the incinerator is approved, which I’m strongly urging against, there is no guarantee the authorities would actually use it. Tonnage price negotiations at the would-be commercial incinerator could see WSCC make an economic decision to continue transporting its waste out of the country.”

Britaniacrest said there were already multiple incinerators in the south east and that there had been ‘no such issue’ around ‘toxic clouds’ being created.

A spokesman said: “The amount of pollution these plants are allowed to produce is set in law. These limits are set at a level to protect human health.

“Before the plant is allowed to operate, an Environmental Permit has to be obtained from the Environment Agency, and the agency regulates and enforces these limits.”

The firm added if any pollution occurred it would be ‘very low’ and it would mainly be carbon dioxide and water coming out of the chimney stack.

They added the waste would not be hazardous and the company’s preference was that it would be recycled.