Inspector refuses retrospective consent for West Sussex anaerobic digestion plant expansion

A planning inspector has refused retrospective planning consent for an expansion of an anaerobic digestion (AD) facility and associated operations on a farm in West Sussex after she concluded that the adverse impacts of the scheme would not be outweighed by the benefits.

Billingshurst, West Sussex (pic: Stephen Richards via Geograph)
Billingshurst, West Sussex (pic: Stephen Richards via Geograph)

The case concerns three related appeals - two against enforcement notices issued by Chichester District Council and a third against a decision by West Sussex County Council which refused retrospective approval for the expansion to operations on the site at Billingshurst, West Sussex.

Inspector Katie Peerless’ decision letter said that the main issues in the appeal against the retrospective approval were highway safety; the living conditions of nearby residents; the rural character of the area and how the location related to adopted planning policy on the need for and siting of waste facilities.

Peerless noted the "undeniable benefits that the proposal would bring in terms of additional waste management facilities in the county, farm diversification and employment provision".

But she also found that the proposal conflicted with policies that control the siting of such development.

She said that the "scale of the operation is such that it would amount to an industrial process to which the original farming enterprise would then be subservient", which would be contrary to local planning policy.

Peerless also found that the vehicle movements "would prove dangerous to other road users and disturbing to local residents".

Peerless concluded that the adverse impacts of the proposal would not be outweighed by the benefits of the development.

The inspector upheld the enforcement notices, with corrections and variations, and refused to grant planning permission for the development.

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