Campaigners against Ford incinerator meet MP Nick Gibb as planning decision looms
Dozens of campaigners opposing a large incinerator in Ford met Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb at the proposed site as a decision on the plans looms.
As the COP26 climate conference drew to a close on Friday (November 12), residents aired their own environmental concerns locally.
The incinerator, proposed for the old airfield, is opposed by Arun District Council, Ford Parish Council, Arundel Town Council, South Downs National Park, Arundel Castle and surrounding parishes.
West Sussex County Council’s Planning and Rights of Way Committee is expected to decide on the plans at the end of the month.
Resident Michael Tu said: “We are grateful for Nick’s support, and for that of his colleague Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs.
“We think this incinerator would be a completely unnecessary blot on the landscape and would put unbearable pressure on local roads and lanes.”
Viridor and Grundon is behind the ‘waste to energy’ plant plans. The facility, campaigners said, would burn 295,000 tonnes per annum of commercial and industrial waste.
The building would be 38.5 metres high, with two 85 metre chimneys, taller than Chichester cathedral, and would be visible for miles around, including from Arundel and the South Downs National Park.
After photos at the site gate on Friday, Mr Gibb had an in-depth discussion about the local problems the incinerator would cause and the national context for this form of waste disposal.
He said: “I completely support the campaign to oppose this massive incinerator as the Ford site is completely unsuitable.
“The visual impact on the Arun Valley would be overbearing and the local roads were not built for the constant flow of HGVs required to keep the incinerator burning 24/7.
“There are 1,500 new homes proposed to be built close to the incinerator including a school and other amenities and these are incompatible.”
In response, Philip Atkinson, director at Ford Energy from Waste Limited, said: “The site being proposed for the Ford Circular Technology Park is already an operational waste management site and has been allocated by West Sussex County Council for future waste management use too.
“Furthermore, our application shows that HGVs will only use the strategic road network to access the site and therefore the roads in the vicinity will be more than able to accommodate the vehicles that will be making deliveries, without causing an unacceptable impact to existing road users.
“We therefore believe the site is well positioned to help West Sussex address its chronic waste management capacity gap. The county desperately needs to find an alternative to its current, unsustainable approach of just sending its non-recyclable waste elsewhere, including overseas, to be managed by others.
“Whilst there are other consented facilities of a similar type in the south of England, these facilities have not been developed and as a result, there remains a vast quantity of non-recyclable waste which is being hauled around the country and in to continental Europe. Any suggestion that this facility at Ford is not required is incorrect.”
Mr Atkinson said that according to county council data, the authority recycled 53 per cent of its waste in 2019/20 and was targeting a one-per-cent increase in this figure each year.
“Put simply, this means there will still be many decades when West Sussex will need an environmentally friendly, cost-effective solution for managing the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste that it isn’t recycling,” he said.
“At the moment, it doesn’t have an answer to this problem and other potential solutions are still decades away.
“There has been much talk of COP26 recently and our proposals answer West Sussex’s climate emergency challenge right now. Our investment will reduce carbon emissions, reduce the number of vehicles on the road and contribute approximately £1million each and every year in local business rates.”
Concerned residents have set up a petition, urging the county council to reject the application.
Visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-arun-valley-incinerator-a-climate-disaster to view and sign the petition.
For more information about the group’s campaign or to offer help, email [email protected]
The reference number for the planning application is WSCC/011/21.