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Environment First Satellite Depot, Newhaven - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest update (Friday 17 May 2024): Council to pause food waste proposals in Newhaven

 

What is the site currently used for?

The site is currently owned by East Sussex County Council and was formerly a household waste and recycling centre.

The site has been largely vacant for many years but has sometimes been used for storage. It has most recently stored new black wheelie bins for Lewes District Council, which are now being rolled out to households across the district. This project is anticipated to be completed by September 2024.

Groundworks have already begun at the satellite depot to include clearance of rubbish, and weed reduction, which will also help with vermin control.

What is proposed for the future of the site?

The site is proposed to be a satellite depot, an extension of the main site in Robinson Road, facilitating:

  • 15 x electric vehicle parking spaces
  • 1 x contractor's car parking space
  • 6 x cycle racks
  • 2 x sealed skip containers
  • 1 x small welfare hut for staff

 

Why was the existing main site at Robinson Road not used?

The council has spent many years exploring options for increasing the depot facilities to support the enhanced waste and recycling service. Several sites have been assessed as part of a due diligence process where it was concluded, under a previous administration, that the Robinson Road site remained the best option.

That said, the Robinson Road site is already at operational capacity.  There is no safe way to add additional vehicles, equipment, service bays and enhanced employee welfare facilities, all of which are necessary to meet future service needs.

An additional site was therefore sourced to meet the needs of the service as near as possible to the main site.

The new satellite depot will help to enhance the Environment First service for the benefit of residents, whilst also providing improved welfare facilities for staff, including welfare facilities for women. It will also provide space to charge our small fleet of quiet electric vans, which will improve food waste collections.

Are there plans to re-develop the main Robinson Road site?

Yes, there are improvements also planned to the main Robinson Road site, which were agreed at the Lewes District Council Cabinet meeting on 14th September 2023 as part of a wider strategy to improve waste and recycling services to residents.

Those plans continue to be developed and we aim to share these shortly.

Will food waste be stored on-site?

Yes, but food waste will be contained in compostable bags within a sealed container and only for short periods of time. The electric vehicle food waste vans will return to the depot when they have completed their rounds, taking best advantage of the vehicle charging range. The food waste will be loaded into the sealed skips to be collected by a larger vehicle that same day, enabling just two heavy vehicle journeys to the compost facility at Whitesmith, rather than multiple journeys. This routing strategy and use of electric vehicle vans will make the food waste collection service more efficient, limiting overall travel distances and time, and reducing the district's carbon emissions.

The sealed skips will be exchanged once a day and transported to the Woodlands In-Vessel Composting Facility in Whitesmith to be recycled into soil conditioner and fertiliser, which is then used by our own gardening teams, as well as farmers and gardeners across the district.

Will there be unpleasant smells at the satellite depot?

The Operational Management and Maintenance Plan requires the submission of details of odour management.

It includes how food waste will be managed and how the satellite depot will be kept clean.

The bagged food waste will be stored in sealed skips that will be exchanged once a day, minimising any chance of smell omissions. When not in use, containers will be fully sealed and bunded.

All vehicles will be cleaned at the main site, where there are mechanical and manual wash facilities, as well as underground waste water storage and processing facilities.

Will there be an incinerator?

No. The satellite depot will have two sealed skips used to store the food waste on a short-term basis. These will be exchanged for clean skips once a day, with the days' collected food waste transported to the Woodlands In-Vessel Composting Facility in Whitesmith to be recycled into soil conditioner and fertiliser, which is then used by our gardening teams, as well as farmers and gardeners across the district.

How will you control vermin?

The Operational Management and Maintenance Plan requires a Pest Management Plan: this is a Planning condition.

The Planning Committee requested a greater degree of clarity and additional detail on how vermin and other pests would be managed, mitigated, and prevented. The specific wording of these additional conditions was delegated to Officers.

When not in use, containers will fully sealed and bunded, so will not be accessible to vermin. Controls for existing vermin will be carefully managed and monitored in accordance with the Operational Management and Maintenance Plan and Pest Management Plan. Environment First already implement control measures at the Robinson Road main site, and these have been extended to the satellite depot.

Other groundworks have already begun at the satellite depot to include clearance of rubbish, and weed reduction which will also help with vermin control.

Will there be new and/or loud noises?

The Operational Management and Maintenance Plan will require the submission of details of the general control of noise. In considering the issue of noise, the Planning Committee asked for specific details related to the control of noise to be required by condition for approval.

Noise will be of three main types: electric vehicles, the larger HGV lorry skip collection, and the arrival and clocking-off of staff. Noise will be within sociable hours and mainly in the early afternoon when crews return from collection rounds.

Environment First staff will enrol for the day at the main Robinson Road site and walk or cycle to the satellite depot where the electric vehicles will have been left, forward-facing to charge overnight. The fleet of electric vehicle food waste collection vans will operate quietly and for short periods of time at the satellite depot. A policy shall be implemented to keep noise to a minimum prior to 08:00. All vehicles will leave forward facing each morning, without a reversing beep sounding.

At the end of shift (approximately 14:00), vehicles will be reversed into their designated parking spaces ready for a forward facing exit the following morning.

The sealed skips will be exchanged daily and lifted onto a lorry during daytime hours whilst the fleet are out on their rounds or soon after their return. This is a relatively short operation, taking approximately 15 minutes.

There is no incinerator or processing plant at the satellite depot.

How will light pollution noise pollution and air quality risks be managed and mitigated?

On-site lighting is to be controlled by a timer circuit with daylight cut off, to ensure hours of use are strictly limited to when needed for safety and security purposes.

12 new smaller LED lamp posts are to be installed with deflectors, that limit the spread of light and to protect neighbour amenity. This is an improvement over the taller lamp post being replaced, that had no deflectors and limited controls.

Vehicle trips to and from the satellite depot will be limited, will not coincide with peak travel times, and will not result in any significant change to traffic in the vicinity of the satellite depot.

The quiet, electric vehicles will be forward facing in the morning, and drivers will reverse into their spaces at the end of their shifts in the early afternoon. Reverse beeping alerts, which warn people nearby of vehicle movements, will not sound for long.

All on site vehicles will be electric, reducing levels of air pollution compared with other non-renewable energy fuel sources such as petrol or diesel.

The food waste will be stored in sealed and bunded skips, which will be exchanged daily for clean skips, reducing smell omissions.

Air quality and pollution risks will be managed and monitored as per operational management plans. This is set out in strict accordance with licensing requirements.

How will on-site safety and employee welfare be managed?

The proposals have been subject to a Health and Safety Risk Assessment and Environmental Risk Assessment, and both were assessed with an overall risk of 'low'.

These will continue to be monitored as the satellite depot progresses and becomes operational.

The use of the site is allowing Lewes District Council to provide improved staff welfare measures across the service, with enhanced facilities at Robinson Road core to the main site plans, and a small welfare hut at the satellite depot. Safer vehicle movements will be enabled with both sites having wider parking bays relative to the size of vehicles.

There will also be a designated site manager, who will actively monitor the satellite depot and its personnel throughout operations.

Is there a risk that the satellite depot is next to a children's play area?

The satellite depot will be enclosed by security fencing, which will be screened by existing established vegetation, thereby minimising visual impact and any potential safety impact on members of the public and those using adjacent amenities.

Vehicle trips to and from the satellite depot will be limited, will not coincide with peak travel times, and will not result in any significant change to traffic in the vicinity of the satellite depot.

The electric vehicles will be forward facing in the morning, and drivers will reverse into their spaces at the end of their shifts in the early afternoon. Reverse beeping alerts, which warn people nearby of vehicle movements, will not sound for long.

The food waste will be stored in sealed skips that will be exchanged once a day, this will manage any potential smell omissions and therefore not affect the nearby park. When not in use, containers are fully sealed and bunded, so will not be accessible to vermin. Controls for existing vermin will be carefully managed and monitored in accordance with the Operational Management and Maintenance Plan and Pest Management Plan.

Environment First already implement extensive control measures at the Robinson Road main site and will extend these to the proposed new satellite depot in Lewes Road. It is well understood that both sites are near the river and well-loved nature and recreational areas. There will be every effort to ensure the impact of the satellite depot is positive: some ground clearance has already taken place, and there will be further works to include clearance of rubbish, reduction of overgrown weeds, and vermin control.

Will the proposals impact the value of my house?

The site has historically been used as a household waste site and, more recently, storage with some extended periods of unmanaged vacancy.

Bringing the site back into use is intended to improve security and dissuade anti-social behaviour often found at unmanaged sites. This is supported by 'Secured by Design' standards, required by condition of planning permission, to improve the proposed satellite depot security and reduce the potential for crime and antisocial behaviour.

Where will staff park?

There is no staff parking on the satellite depot. Staff will continue to report to Robinson Road first thing before walking or cycling to the satellite depot.

A single vehicular parking bay will be provided on-site (in addition to the parking bays for the electric vehicles) for use by any visitors or contractors during hours of operation as may be required.

Secure cycle storage will be provided.

Will the proposals increase parking available to the public?

No.

The satellite depot will solely be used to support the council's Environment First service. The land adjacent to the satellite depot will remain in the ownership of East Sussex County Council and is not currently a designated car park.

What happens now?

Committee Members resolved by majority vote to grant planning permission in line with the Officer recommendation, to include specific conditions to mitigate the impact of the development. The Committee provided delegated authority to Officers to explore other mitigations, above and beyond those recommended by Officers. These include exploration of the following:

  1. Further details on the plans for control of vermin
  2. Noise - reversing vehicles / compactor
  3. Compactor technology / methodology
  4. Further details on the management of liquid waste and watertightness of skips
  5. Whether additional acoustic fencing is required
  6. Hours of operation - for instance, the potential for a later start daily (if noise concerns remain).

In line with Committee instruction, Officers are exploring the matters raised and will draft a revised schedule of conditions, which will be finalised prior to the grant of permission.

A significant number of new representations were received shortly before the Committee meeting, which meant that they could not be considered in their entirety. The Committee resolved to delegate to Officers to consider the remaining representations and only to re-consider at a future meeting should any substantive issues require their consideration.

The late representations are being considered in full by Officers and will be summarised within a stand-alone document.

How could the Planning Committee make a decision without considering the large number of late, unread representations?

Planning applications are considered taking account of material planning considerations, including those raised in representations.

A significant number of new representations were received shortly before the Committee meeting, which meant that they could not be considered in their entirety. The Committee delegated to Officers to consider the remaining representations and only to re-consider at a future meeting should any substantive issues require their consideration.

The Planning Committee is required to take account only of those material considerations set out by developers or raised by supporters and objectors that have a bearing on the planning decisions and not the number of representations (whether from supporters or objectors).

It was not possible to read and report on all late received comments, however, the Committee was able to delegate to Officers to check the details of the representations. Officers will therefore identify any additional material considerations that could have led to a substantively different outcome. Only if this is the case would the application require further consideration by the Planning Committee.

The late representations will be summarised within a stand-alone document.

What consultation was carried out?

The Council conducted consultation prior to the Planning Committee meeting, including writing to neighbouring residents and publicising details of the application.

Initial door knocks to Lewes Road residents were made to advise of initial works and address any immediate concerns. Regular updates then followed.

Local Ward Councillors and members of Newhaven Town Council were fully briefed on the proposals and encouraged to share the proposals with residents including on social media.

Lewes District Council Cabinet approved the proposals subject to planning on 14th September 2023, with recommendations to proceed also supported by the Policy Performance and Advisory Committee.

Why were a limited number of residents spoken to regarding these plans?

Alongside the statutory planning consultation, the Council conducted various methods of consultation prior to the Planning Committee meeting, including writing to neighbouring residents and publicising details of the application.

As plans for the proposals developed, it was recognised that nearby residents may have more specific concerns. Those residents were therefore spoken with directly and responses provided to any specific issues raised.