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Council waste policy like 'pinning tail on a donkey'

West Sussex planners have been accused of taking a “flaky approach” to inert waste sites.

Mick Balch, managing director of Fareham-based L&S Waste Management, said the county council was relying on projects needing inert waste, rather than planning for its disposal in appropriate restoration sites.

In a letter to companies similarly affected, Balch said: “They are not proposing to allocate any strategically important sites (expired gravel, mineral workings etc) for inert landfill, including land raise, and will rely on planning applications, if granted, to deal with inert waste soils through construction projects, bunds, golf courses etc.”

Balch said such applications would have to pass stringent tests and were particularly unlikely to succeed in the area of the South Downs National Park, which takes up a substantial part of the county as well as smaller parts of Hampshire and East Sussex.

That would mean inert waste would have to be shifted long distances by road beyond the national park, he said.

“This approach to planning is a bit like playing the game pinning the tail on the donkey - you only win if the inert material you happen to produce comes at the same time and in the same place as a successful planning application was awarded for a site to receive inert waste,” Balch said.

Planners had disregarded the carbon footprint involved in long-distance haulage of waste and “neither does this flaky approach from planners once take into account the commercial affect that a possible increase in transportation costs will have on our business and that of the construction industry as a whole”.

Waste was omitted from the National Planning Policy Framework – which governs local planning policies – pending production of the National Waste Plan, which is delayed to the end of this year.

A Royal Town Planning Institute spokesman said: “The NPPF doesn’t deal with waste and Planning Policy Statement 10 remains in force, but that is out of date.”

West Sussex and the South Downs National Park Authority have submitted a waste local plan to the Government covering the period to 2031.

“It is expected that the approach to planning for inert waste will be examined and tested during the public hearings in July and, therefore, we do not wish to comment further on this matter in advance of receiving the Planning Inspector’s recommendations,” a spokesman said.

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