As a resident of Ford, I attended Saturday’s exhibition, by Grundon, of its plans for a two-stage gasification and combustion plant at the old Topblock site on Ford Airfield.
There are many reasons for local residents to object to the plant, just some follow: traffic chaos, vehicle pollution, additional wear and tear on poorly maintained roads, increased noise, devaluation of surrounding properties and farmland, and the eyesore 50m stack that will dominate the views from the National Park and surrounding areas.
Perhaps ironically, the height of this stack will mean that in most cases emissions from the plant, should its planning be approved, may have minimal influence on the residents of Ford. However with the winds along the south coast being mainly in the arc from southerlies to westerlies, Worthing and the villages between there and Ford, will, at times, be directly in line for the fall-out.
Emissions from such stacks and their dispersion are considered to be easily modelled by computers, and this is true to the extent that the average concentrations of pollutants can be relatively well understood across a large volume.
The problem is that, on a small local scale, very high concentrations of pollutants can remain in ‘packets’, almost undispersed, and residents will occasionally be exposed to these.
An example of this is how a pedestrian, standing on the side of the road, can smell cigarette smoke emitted from the window of a passing car. There’s a tiny amount of smoke present in a huge volume of moving air, but somehow a concentrated part still reaches the pedestrian’s nose.
In the worst case scenario, geographic and topological features could direct these ‘packets’ to the same locations quite frequently, exposing residents to far greater concentrations of toxic compounds than anticipated by the models commissioned by Grundon to convince the planners.
Air quality regulations for facilities such as that proposed for Ford merely set limits on ‘regulated pollutants’ such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter of less than 10 microns in diameter.
However, the gasification plant would consume waste of uncertain chemical origin, including metallic compounds and plastics, and it may generate emissions species that can both have extreme impacts on human health and that are not effectively reduced by emissions control devices designed for regulated emissions.
The residents of Littlehampton, Rustington, Angmering, Worthing, Storrington and Arundel should all be concerned about the possibility of this facility being built and becoming operational.
It’s not just a problem for Ford.