The firm behind plans to create an incinerator in Horsham has said ‘there are lessons to be learnt from Blue Planet and China’.
Britaniacrest Recycling has put forward proposals to create a new a 24-hour Recycling, Recovery and Renewable energy facility at the former Wealden brickworks in Langhurstwood Road.
The plans have faced backlash from residents who have raised concerns around pollution, recycling and the impact of the building on the countryside.
In response a spokesman for Britaniacrest said this week: “David Attenborough’s Blue Planet had a remarkable impact in raising awareness of the amount of plastic waste there is floating around our seas.
“This waste has been put there due to somebody discarding it in the first place - according to Britaniacrest Recycling, because there are just not enough proper facilities to collect it and reprocess it around the world – including in the UK.
“The UK has never been at the top of the league in recycling, but has on the face of it made some good progress, with recycling across the country lately averaging around 45 per cent of the household waste produced.
“Recently, however, even this progress has come under threat, and there is now the prospect of recyclable waste accumulating within the country with nowhere for it to go, because China has introduced restrictions that will prevent recyclables being exported to it from the UK and other countries.
“Much of recycled material is used to create packaging to protect goods in shipment. Packaging is a low value product, and therefore needs to be produced close to where the goods it is protecting are produced.
“China is a major manufacturer of goods and when it did not have enough recovered material to make that packaging, it was happy to accept imports from the Western economies.
“Over recent years, however, the Chinese economy has grown substantially and its own people are producing sufficient waste to provide the recovered material needed to supply the packaging. It has also invested in the plant and equipment needed to collect and extract high quality recyclate from the waste.
“So, whilst the Chinese have been accused of implementing a ban on recycled materials, what they have actually done is to impose quality levels that only permits high standard materials into the country.
“The fact is that the quality of material supplied from the UK is not up to the standard now acceptable to the Chinese – because the UK has failed to invest in the infrastructure needed to deal with its waste.
“According to Britaniacrest Recycling Ltd, the situation is the same with the residual waste that is leftover after the recycling has been taken out.”
Chris Foss, director of Britaniacrest Recycling, said: “The success of recycling relies on the quality of the recovered materials that are sent to the re-processor who makes those materials into new products.
“Britaniacrest was set up to carry out recycling and recycling is fundamental to the whole ethos of our company – indeed, it is even in our name. In order to get the quality of materials required, the waste needs to be sorted and selected, and even if this is done in the home or office with separate collection, it inevitably means that there is material left over that is not of the quality needed to make new products. That residual material has to be discarded.
“The big issue with China is that across the country, companies such as ours just do not have the plant and equipment needed to do the job properly – and that is the whole reason why we are putting forward the planning application for the development of the 3Rs at Wealden Works.”
“What does not seem to be understood is that West Sussex and the other councils in the county had the foresight to understand that infrastructure would be needed, and after careful consideration, a policy document called the ‘West Sussex Waste Local Plan was produced. This sets the strategy for the development of waste management until 2031 and identifies sites that are suitable for it to happen. Wealden Works is identified in the plan as being suitable for the proposed development we are now putting forward.
“The Plan was formalised four years ago and new developments need to take account of, and if necessary adapt to, this plan. There has been a lot of discussion about the development north of Horsham, but the Waste Local Plan and our waste
operations on the site pre-date those proposals and they knew we were there and what we were doing when the master plan was developed.”
Mr Foss explained that the new facility would enable the company to carry out the recycling indoors, and at the same time provide a means of disposing the residual waste, whether it was from the firm’s collections or others around the county.
He said: “We are now in a position where we are reliant on European countries such as Germany to dispose of the waste that cannot be recycled.
“There are no longer landfills in the south of England that we can use and we are in a similar position as with export of recyclables, in that we are dependent on the whims of another country as to what happens.
“This is a serious problem and whilst we understand the reluctance of some people to accept the 3Rs facility, it will be in a location that has been considered carefully by the councils as being acceptable. It is also one of the best screened sites around, so will hardly be visible and most people will not even know it is there.
“We appreciate that the stack appears to be high, but this is for good reason and should be seen as assurance that the plant will do no harm to the environment or peoples’ health. It will be a slim structure and will not dominate the skyline.
“There has been a lot of scaremongering by certain parties, predicting all sorts of awful things coming out of the stack. There are now 40 similar plants around the country, of which seven are in or around the south of England. If what the
scaremongers are claiming is true, it would be obvious by now and we would not be proposing to build another one. But that is not the case.”
Britaniacrest has submitted a full environmental impact assessment along with the planning application and it will now be considered by the county council.
The spokesman added: “Blue Planet and China may seem a long way away from Horsham, but there are some lessons to be learnt from them.”
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