Green MEP writes to West Sussex County Council to oppose ‘toxic’ Horsham incinerator

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, has criticised West Sussex County Council’s plans for a new Horsham incinerator as a ‘big step back on sustainability.’

The senior Green politician raised concerns in a letter to the Council’s planning office just days after voting in the European Parliament to strengthen the EU’s commitment to the so-called ‘circular economy,’ which sets binding targets for reducing, reusing and recycling waste rather than burning it or sending it to landfill.

Mr. Taylor said proposals for an incinerator in Horsham are at odds with EU-wide efforts to build the sustainable economies necessary to avoid the very worst effects of the climate breakdown.

The plans are also strongly opposed by the local community, Mr. Taylor, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health Committee, 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.”

“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.”

On the impact on Horsham, Mr Taylor continued:

“The size of the plant as much as its 180,000 tonnes per annum capacity is of huge concern. 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.”

“Ultimately, I am deeply concerned about the harmful emissions from the incineration processes on site. It is 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.”

The Green MEP concluded:

“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.”

“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.”

Keith Taylor’s letter was submitted to West Sussex County Council as part of the authority’s consultation on the plans for the new Horsham incinerator. The consultation closes on Thursday, 3 May.