New food waste depot in Newhaven: residents and councillors meet to discuss controversial planning approval decision

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Residents and councillors dismayed by Lewes District Council’s (LDC) approval of a new food waste depot in Newhaven are set to meet this week.

Community group Stop the Slops have organised a meeting for Friday, May 10, at Hillcrest Community Centre (6.30pm-8pm).

The group said Lewes MP Maria Caulfield is set to attend, along with councillors who voted against the decision to grant planning approval on April 17. They said councillor Wendy Maples, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Well-Being, has been invited, along with council leader Zoe Nicholson.

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Maria Caulfield, who has organised a survey to gather residents’ thoughts, posted a video on Facebook, describing the decision as ‘a complete shock’.

Resident Denice Penrose is concerned that extra trucks will cause more congestion, especially on the Lewes RoadResident Denice Penrose is concerned that extra trucks will cause more congestion, especially on the Lewes Road
Resident Denice Penrose is concerned that extra trucks will cause more congestion, especially on the Lewes Road

She said: “No one knew this was on the table and while I’m busy getting £73 million worth of investment into Newhaven to turn it around and regenerate it Lewes District Council have simply just put a food waste tip back in the heart of Newhaven.”

She said she would work with Newhaven residents to try to stop the site, adding that it is ‘the last thing that Newhaven needs’ as the town brings in new businesses and jobs.

Resident Denice Penrose, of Valley Road, said residents want the decision overturned and a more appropriate site found. She said: "Lewes District Council has decided to put a food waste collection site in the midst of a residential area in Newhaven without proper consultation with those who live nearby, and ignoring the complaints raised.” She said: “There was no attempt to contact us in any way or form to discuss the plans.”

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Lewes District Council told the Express previously: “Prior to the planning application being considered, council officers and councillors visited neighbouring homes and gave a full presentation to Newhaven Town Councillors. Further consultation was carried out on the planning application to encourage comments from residents and businesses, including on social media by various town and ward councillors.”

The council said: “A significant number of representations were received shortly before the committee meeting which meant that they could not be fully considered.”

Denice said: “Already Newhaven houses the local tip; the incinerator; the Robinson road storage site. It seems that Lewes council is trying to turn Newhaven into the district dump! Surely if this has to be housed in Newhaven, a site in the industrial area either near the incinerator or tip would be more suitable and less disruptive?”

Denice is particularly concerned that extra trucks will cause more congestion, especially on the Lewes Road. She is also concerned food could be left on the ground as containers are filled and said EVs filling would cause noise.

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Lewes District Council said sealed containers will be exchanged every day for clean ones, with full containers being transferred to Whitesmith. The council said no processing or long-term storage will be held on site and said ‘noise reducing gabion walls’ would be installed. The council added that containers are vermin proof.

The councilr spokesperson said: “Options were explored for incorporating these facilities within the existing main Robinson Road waste and recycling depot. However, the site is already at operational capacity and there is no safe way to add additional vehicles, equipment, and machinery, hence the decision to use a site within a close distance of Robinson Road.”

Councillors respond to MP’s video

Some Lewes District Councillors have addressed the points that Lewes MP Maria Caulfield made in her video about the Newhaven waste depot.

In the video she said the depot is a site that ‘the planning authority of Lewes District Council – made up of the Greens, the Lib Dems and Labour – voted through.”

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Lib Dem councillor Sean Macleod (Newhaven North) responded by saying: “Local Liberal Democrat Councillors oppose this food waste depot, I personally spoke against it at planning committee and we will continue to stand alongside residents in the campaign to get this stopped.”

Ms Caulfield also said: “Food waste should not be being processed here in Newhaven.”

Green councillor Wendy Maples (Lewes Castle) said: “I want to reassure everyone that no processing of any food waste will take place at this site. The purpose of the satellite depot is to enable us to transfer food waste safely and cleanly. The planning committee gave officers the job of making absolutely sure all objections and comments were heard properly and to come back to a future planning committee if necessary. That is what’s happening.”

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