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Victorian Rubbish

Planning Permission is being sought for a massive waste transfer and recycling depot. The site “selected” is right beside the very successful Downs Infants School and across the road from the Downs Junior School. It is a five minute walk from The Level and surrounded by houses. It is so central that the rubbish would have a choice of about 6 buses!

The residents are persistently depicted as “nimbys” and/or people opposed to the green and cuddly concept of re-cycling. This is cheap and despicable. The argument for recycling is incontrovertible. The residents of that area have a green councillor and are among highest recyclers in the town for goodness sake. The argument is WHERE it should be. Far from “nimbys”, the residents regard themselves as “niybyes”: Not In Your Back Yard Eithers.

The immediate argument is about whether this huge industrial and dangerous facility should be placed at a valuable central site, near houses and beside an infant-junior school with 900 pupils. (It is one of the largest and most respected schools in the town). The site is large and ripe for one of those much-heralded brown-field inner-city developments. It is near supermarkets, buses, schools and the town centre. Surely, this accommodation is more suited to human beings than 160,000 tonnes of black bag rubbish and heaven knows what festering recyclates in storage awaiting transfer? Why doesn’t the council sell it and use the money to buy some land elsewhere, and build some houses for nurses etc out of the profit they would make?

There will be other effects on the town in general.

The recent fire at Buncefield illustrated the dangers of large amounts of flammable material. (Apart from the schools and the houses there is a high rise block immediately adjacent to the site, where many elderly people live, and a petrol station pretty close by too).. Not that fumes respect boundaries of course. I suppose it is possible that parents will decide against using the school, even though it is excellent, if the plans are approved, and so these 900 children might have to be accommodated elsewhere in our already pressured school system.

Statistics concerning large scale waste depots reveal that they sometimes relate directly to clusters of disease. Why should these fellow citizens and their children be put at risk? And everybody else, who catch the same buses, work in the same offices and shop in the same shops? At this point it might be worth recording that the health dangers were not addressed as part of the application – even though an Infant Playground backs onto the site.

Despite this being the second application there is no significant change in the plans, oblivious to the uproar it caused. Onyx, renamed Veolia, have not even seen fit to offer to re-arrange the buildings, so that their Offices back on to the school, rather than the Rubbish Processing plant. It is clear the welfare of the town’s children isn’t actually ON their agenda. At all.

Nor have they made any attempt to minimise the amount of lorry to-ing and fro-ing on the site beside the school as the lorries shuffle from one building to the other. Why haven’t they designed their “facility” so that the lorries enter as far from the school as possible and use their CONVEYOR belt to CONVEY the rubbish from there as needed…rather than driving it around like a debutante?

Great play is made that that the rubbish will be handled “indoors”. But every time the doors open for the 400 a day delivery lorries the smell, noise, pollution, dust, will escape. (The lorries will have to exit the building too, making it 800 times a day the doors will open) They haven’t even offered to double-lock the facility so that lorries enter and leave via a noise-controlled, dust controlled and odour controlled area by the use of double doors.

Whilst we are on the subject of dustcarts and their movements, pause a while to consider the effect of all 400 lorries wending their way through the city streets in order to converge on one central spot in the town, (as opposed to separately making their ways via their shortest possible routes to the bypass). This spot will not so much be a spot as a raging boil at the geographical centre of the town. Hardly a day passes but we are exhorted to embrace one elaborate building scheme after another, under threat that unless we become a Barcelona-style centre of modern architecture the town will wither. The construction of huge metal sheds in a central hill top location, with all the commanding views this position could offer, hardly accords with this vision does it? Rather than celebrating and improving our exciting town this excrescence will be at its heart, snarling up traffic throughout the town. The Lewes Road area has been long neglected, despite it being one of the major approach paths to the town. To place the dump in the centre beside will imprison it and the residents, consigning the area to a grimy future. It is common to experience traffic problems now when using the Lewes Road, particularly near the gyratory system. What will it be like when the largest lorries legal in the UK (44 ton) are plying through the narrow railway bridge to take the rubbish away? They will JUST manage to squeeze through; providing they use the entire road AND one of the pavements. Each lorry, and there will be lots of them, will then occupy most of the lanes on their way down to the Lewes Road. Heaven knows what will happen as they return and travel AROUND the gyratory, taking up most of the road, to go back up to the bridge? Will two be able to pass each other? Or will they, in fact, have to use another route in? Look out. The traffic will be brought to a standstill. Pollution will soar in an area that already has pollution levels considered to be hazardous. No joke even now for the many people who live in this area. The traffic problems are likely to become so great that traffic will be displaced as people try to find other ways to get in and out of town. Look out Old Shoreham, Seven Dials, Dyke Road and who knows where else! There is talk they will avoid times of the most acute traffic… what does this mean? Are the residents to be kept awake all night by juggernauts as if they live on the central reservation of the M25? Which residents? Doesn’t this constitute a public nuisance?

All of the problems described here result from the proposal to site this facility IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TOWN. When the site was initially deemed suitable for waste disposal, in the Victorian era, not only was there less rubbish, it was on THE EDGE of the town.

I realise that Onyx/Veolia are not Brighton residents and their primary concern is profit; this is natural for a multi-billion pound organisation. This is precisely why we need our council to safeguard our interests.

Recycling and Waste transfer facilities should surely be sited along the bypass or on a sensibly located Industrial Estate? To allow practical access for the lorries so that traffic need not be grid locked. To prevent children’s education being disrupted, and a damn good school damaged. Also, it would avoid city-residents’ health being put at risk by their own public servants.

This is the final point I want to make: Do you remember when Councils were public servants? Aren’t they are supposed to act in our best interests? Can’t huge international firms fend for themselves? It sometimes feels like the council has forgotten their remit since we “became a city” and now see their job as corralling the public into line on this and other issues. It is time the balance of power at City Hall was returned. It is time to make a stand. Discussion seems to be a bizarre ‘them and us’ battle. ..And, you know what they say about battles? United we stand, divided we fall.

We must write to the council and tell them this preposterous plan is an outrage, a blot on Brighton’s reputation, and a very costly and ugly mistake. Make sure you do it soon. The plans are being forced through at a dizzying speed. They have just announced the consultation period will end 19th April! (Of course they can’t ignore complaints received afterwards, but the campaigners say immediate action is very important). Write to Maria Seale, Development Control, Brighton & Hove City Council Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Brighton BN3 3BQ to object to this planning application. You need to put the new planning application number on your letter - BH2006/00900. You can also object by email. Look at if you can, it is fascinating.

Posted in History on Oct 01, 2007