Medical waste plant for Newhaven given the green light

The site of the proposed gasification plant in Newhaven Port
The site of the proposed gasification plant in Newhaven Port

Plans to open a medical waste plant in Newhaven have been given the go-ahead by East Sussex planners.

At a meeting on Wednesday (January 16), East Sussex County Council planners approved an application from Clean Thermodynamic Energy Conversion Limited to develop a waste plant at the East Quay Industrial Estate.

The plant, to operate under the trade name Medipower, is expected to see up to 12 tonnes of non-hazardous medical waste disposed of each day, through an electricity and heat creating process known as gasification.

While the proposals had proven controversial with residents, the committee unanimously backed an officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission.

Putting forward a motion to grant planning permission,  Bob Bowdler (Con. – Hailsham Market) said: “I’ve read the report and I find it difficult to find anything not to like about it.

“I think it makes a positive contribution environmentally and to the local economy, so I am happy to propose we accept the officer’s recommendation.”

Labour councillor Godfrey Daniel (Hastings Braybrooke and Castle) also argued in favour of approval and criticised the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) for submitting an objection to the proposals.

He said: “I think we also have to look at the fact that this is basically an industrial process. It is on an industrial site and within an industrial building.

“I was disappointed by the South Downs National Park Authority comments. I do wonder if they need some extra training in planning considerations.

“This is not in the South Downs. This is an industrial site and it is not going to go away.

“If the South Downs want to make it not an industrial site then they need to start doing something with the district plan, not moan at us about it.”

Cllr Daniel also described objector’s concerns over environmental impact as a ‘red herring’, as it had already been considered as part of an earlier permit application to Lewes District Council.

The SNDPA was one of several local groups opposed to the plans including Seaford Town Council and campaign group Community Action Newhaven.

Planners also received 93 letters of objection from residents, who raised concerns about the impact of the plant on the surrounding area.

Before making a decision the committee heard more about how the applicant’s gasification process would work from planning agent Alan Potter.

Mr Potter said: “Gasification involves the controlled processing of a feedstock in a reaction chamber to produce a hydrocarbon rich gas.  This gas is used to raise steam and generate power.

“The product of the emissions produced is controlled both through the chemical reaction and the recirculation of exhaust gas within the process.

“Emissions are very clean, as proven by the pilot plant which has been in operation in the adjacent unit for the past four years.”

Mr Potter added that the process would provide electricity for up to 250 homes in the area and could provide heat for up to 750 homes as housing development in Newhaven continues.

He also said the predicted impact of the plant had been found to be ‘negligible’ by planning officers.  

Following a short discussion the proposals were unanimously approved by committee members.