#City & Town Planning
The Environment Agency; The Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman
United Kingdom

Our request is for The Environment Agency to take a proactive role in protecting the amenity of residents living near the Hollingdean Depot site: Round Hill (to the south), Ditchling Road (to the west) and Hollingdean which suffers the HGV movements (to the north).

The Environment Agency’s current complaint-led system of logging what it calls “incidents” may well be suited to one-off events such as the dumping of dangerous chemicals in rivers etc. However, the language of “incidents” and requests for troubled residents to rate objectionable odour on a scale of 1 to 6, are inappropriate in relation to nuisances which are repeated day after day. These nuisances originate from poor location, inadequate site area for satisfactory building design & landscaping, and operating hours stretching into parts of the day and week where residents would like a rest from industrial noise. The Brighton Society describes Veolia’s installations at Hollingdean Depot as "basic metal sheds, the cheapest form of building". These sheds echo and rumble, amplify bangs, and have never been able to contain odour during hot (&/or windy) weather conditions.

A fundamental change to the terms of the “licence to operate”, set by The Environment Agency, is needed to rectify such permanent flaws.

DEFRA (the Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) advises that where food waste cannot be prevented, anaerobic digestion (AD) is the best environmental option currently available. Before winning their contract with Brighton and Hove City Council in April 2003, Veolia (then known as Onyx) declared its intention to build an anaerobic digestion plant at Pebsham, Bexhill. After the contract was awarded, the anaerobic digestion plant was conveniently dropped. Ten years on, it may be time to re-visit food waste collection (as already performed successfully in London Boroughs such as Hackney) and anaerobic digestion at a plant located well away from homes and gardens.

The terms of Veolia’s “licence to operate at Hollingdean Depot” could also provide incentives to take noisy glass-tipping to a different site. Brighton and Hove residents are already asked to separate glass from other recyclables before it leaves their homes. Currently, noisy glass-tipping takes place in Hollingdean Depot’s Waste Transfer Station, and not in The Materials Recovery Facility. It would seem that this function could also be transferred to a site where it is unlikely to cause nuisance.

We the undersigned call on The Environment Agency to adjust the terms of Veolia’s “license to operate” at Hollingdean Depot:

1. to provide the site’s neighbours with reasonable periods of respite from industrial noise: the licence terms should ensure that residents’ amenity is truly protected at weekends and on public holidays.

2. to create incentives for functions such as food waste processing and glass-tipping to be moved to locations where they will not cause regular odour nuisance and periods of prolonged noise nuisance respectively.

3. to make clear that the Environment Agency itself remains responsible for logging all types of nuisance from Hollingdean Depot. We ask the Environment Agency to end immediately its private arrangement whereby complaints about noise nuisance from the site are directed to Brighton and Hove City Council (Veolia’s main client).

Noise nuisance comes within the terms of the “licence to operate” granted by The Environment Agency. It cannot pass as truly independent monitoring for The Environment Agency to direct complaints about noise nuisance to Veolia’s main client. Veolia has made clear, at their July 2013 Hollingdean Facility Liaison Group meeting, that their current planning application (to operate The Hollingdean Depot site for 15 hours a day and for 363 days in the year) is really something instigated by Brighton and Hove City Council.

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The Downsizing Veolia’s operation at Hollingdean Depot and the nuisances caused petition to The Environment Agency; The Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman was written by Ted Power and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.