The application, for an energy recovery facility and a waste sorting & transfer facility at the Ford Circular Technology Park, in Ford Road, was due to be decided by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee on Tuesday (November 30).
But Grundon Waste Management and Viridor have pulled the plans so that they can be reviewed to address concerns raised by the council’s planning officers.
Philip Atkinson, Ford energy from waste director, said a new application would be submitted in the future.
He added: “Our site is ideally situated, is already an operational waste management site and has been allocated within the Waste Local Plan by West Sussex County Council for future waste management use.
“We want to help West Sussex address its chronic waste management capacity gap, because it urgently 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.
“While there are other consented facilities of a similar type in the south of England, these facilities have not been developed yet and as a result, there remains a vast quantity of non-recyclable waste which is being hauled around the country, and even into continental Europe.”
Had the application been heard by the planning committee, the recommendation from officers was to refuse it.
A report to the meeting recognised the positives such facilities would bring – not least of which was the fact that some 275,000 tonnes of residual waste per year would be diverted from landfill and thermally treated to produce electricity.
A further 20,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sorted and separated for further treatment.
But the officers felt that the sheer scale, form, bulk and appearance of the buildings – especially the 85m chimney stacks – would have an ‘unacceptable impact on the character of the area, the wider landscape, and visual amenity’.
There were also concerns about the impact the facilities would have on listed buildings in the area, as well as road safety and public rights of way.
The report added: “The benefits of the proposal need to be weighed against its dis-benefits.
“On the one hand, there are significant benefits in terms of waste management and lesser benefits in terms of renewable/low carbon energy generation, employment, and biodiversity.
“On the other hand, there would be significant adverse impacts on the character of the area, the wider landscape, visual amenity, the South Downs National Park, heritage assets, and road safety.”
The council also received objections from Arun District Council, its own highways and built heritage teams, the South Downs National Park Authority and eight town and parish councils.
On top of that, some 1,948 objections were received from the public, with only 42 letters supporting the plans.
Michael Tu, representing the Stop the Arun Valley Incinerator Campaign, said: “The campaign team welcomes the withdrawal of the application, in the light of the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse the proposed incinerator at Ford, and sincerely hope the applicant will not re-apply.
“This is definitely not environmentally friendly as it will exacerbate climate change, harm air quality and compete with recycling.
“We would like to thank the 2,000 people that submitted written objections and the 1,700 who have already signed our petition started during the COP26 conference.”
Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs, welcomed the application’s withdrawal.
He said: “This energy recovery facility is not suitable for the Arun Valley. Its visual appearance would have ruined views of the coast from the town of Arundel and the South Downs.
“As part of our campaign to reach Net Zero by 2050, we should not be anticipating higher volumes of non-recyclable waste nor transporting waste over large distances. I am pleased that Viridor reflected on the significant concerns of local people around this Energy From Waste facility and withdrew its application.”
Mr Atkinson predicted that West Sussex would long need ‘an environmentally friendly, cost-effective solution for managing the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste that cannot be recycled’.
He added: “At the moment, it doesn’t have an answer to this problem which will be compounded even further by housing growth plans.
“Arun District Council’s Local Plan alone will see 1,000 new homes built every year for the next decade, meaning even more waste will be produced locally.
“Energy recovery remains the best way of managing our non-recyclable waste and there is no site in West Sussex that’s better suited to meeting this need than our site at Ford.
“In addition, recent issues the country has faced in terms of its energy supplies highlight the real need to invest in domestic, home-grown sources of sustainable energy generation.
“So, while the primary role of the Ford Circular Technology Park will be to provide a solution to the waste management crisis in West Sussex, our facility’s ability to supply power to the national grid – or even local users – should not be ignored.
“We will continue our work to deliver a facility that addresses these very real challenges that the county faces.”