West Sussex landfill capacity to run out by 2015

By Michael Holder

West Sussex county council could be forced to send more of its waste to landfill sites outside of the county as its current landfill capacity is projected to run out by 2015/2016.

Under a contract with Biffa, the council currently sends most of its non-inert waste to a landfill site at Brookhurst Wood, near Horsham in West Sussex. Some waste is also sent outside the county through a contract with Viridor to sites in Hampshire and Berkshire.

Space is running out at Brookhurst Wood landfill site near Horsham, West Sussex
Space is running out at Brookhurst Wood landfill site near Horsham, West Sussex

However, there is currently no allocation of new non-inert landfill sites in the county and only one site extension proposed, for the Brookhurst Wood site.

The situation was highlighted in a South East Waste Planning Authority Group (SEWPAG) meeting in January 2013 in which it was noted that the council was looking to use of non-inert landfill sites outside West Sussex following take-up of current capacity within the county.

In 2010/11, approximately 180,000 tonnes of municipal, 200,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial, and 280,000 tonnes of construction, demolition and excavation waste was landfilled in West Sussex by the council.

The county also imports around 310,000 tonnes of waste a year from London and adjoining areas, and also around 44,000 tonnes from elsewhere in the UK, the majority of which is sent to landfill.

Plan

In May 2012, the council consulted on a draft West Sussex Local Plan which sets out the councils aim to become zero waste to landfill by 2031, which it defines as disposing of less than 3% of waste arising in the county to landfill.

The draft plan identifies five possible sites for future recycling and treatment facilities within the county to deal with waste which is currently sent to landfill and also proposed to extend the life of the Brookhurst Wood landfill site.

However, the plan is not likely to be adopted until October 2013. It is also not guaranteed that facilities will be developed at these sites, as the council said that it is dependent on the private sector bringing forward plans for recycling facilities.

Commenting on the situation, a spokesman for the council told letsrecycle.com this week: Permitted capacity is likely to run out by 2015/16. The submitted West Sussex Local Plan allocates an extension to the Brookhurst Wood landfill site which could accommodate 0.86 million tonnes of waste. This will provide a period of transition in the medium-term during which new recycling and treatment facilities can come forward on sites allocated in the plan and on other suitable sites.

The West Sussex sites allocated in the plan are as follows: a site north of Wastewater Treatment Works, Ford; Hobbs Barn, near Climping; Fuel Depot, Bognor Road, Chichester; Brookhurst Wood, near Horsham; and land west of Wastewater Treatment Works, Goddards Green.

“If the new built facilities are not brought forward by the private sector, then some non-municipal waste may be exported for disposal outside the county”

West Sussex county council spokesman

The council spokesman said: The Waste Local Plan allocates sufficient recovery capacity to treat the residual non-inert waste arising in West Sussex that would be sent for disposal to land either within the county or potentially elsewhere, thereby helping to achieve the aspiration of ‘zero waste to landfill’.

However, if the new built facilities are not brought forward by the private sector, then some non-municipal waste may be exported for disposal outside the county (but that is outside the county council’s control).

Brookhurst Wood MBT

At the end of 2009, the councils landfill contract with waste management firm Biffa for the disposal of municipal waste expired. It currently has an interim contract with waste services provider Viridor, due to expire in 2014, through which waste is sent for landfill at Squabb Wood landfill site in Hampshire and to the Lakeside energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Berkshire.

A contract was also signed with Biffa in July 2010 to landfill waste and to build a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant at the Brookhurst Wood site. The MBT plant is expected to open in autumn 2013 and will have the capacity to process 327,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The councils vision for the Waste Local Plan states: West Sussex county council and the South Downs national park authority want the waste that is generated in West Sussex to be dealt with in a sustainable way. To that end, the current network of waste management facilities will be safeguarded and the provision of suitable and well-located new facilities will be enabled to maximise opportunities to reuse, compost, recycle, and treat waste. This new provision will take place in ways that support social and economic progress, protect local communities, and protect and enhance the special character and environment of the county.

Landfill waste from London is also sent to West Sussex and other surrounding counties, but it was noted at the SEWPAG meeting in January that there was no provision (for landfill capacity in West Sussex) to be made for waste from London.

This follows objections raised by West Sussex and other south east councils about the lack of engagement from London boroughs on the North London Waste plan, which was rejected by a planning inspector on these grounds in August 2012 (see letsrecycle.com story). The plan included provisions for landfill waste to be sent from London boroughs to surrounding counties, such as West Sussex.

More information on the Waste Local Plan is available on the West Sussex county council website.

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