A GROUNDBREAKING £12 million food waste generator will not now go ahead.

The not-for-profit co-op behind the project says it was unviable at its proposed location.

Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-op had been hoping to make history and build the country’s first community-owned biogas manufacturing plant at Hangleton Bottom, which is just south of the A27.

Residents welcomed the decision saying they never accepted the co-op’s assurances over the limited impact it claimed it would have on their lives.

The firm had hoped to open the biomethane food waste generator capable of burning up to 50,000 tonnes of food thrown away each year by the city’s hotels and restaurants in 2018.

It had been envisaged that surplus energy could be used to heat 25,000 homes at a low tariff for people suffering from fuel poverty.

The Hangleton Bottom site was one of 18 in East Sussex and Brighton and Hove deemed suitable for new waste sites to meet growing demand earlier this year.

But following 18 months of public consultation and feasibility studies, analysis has shown Hangleton Bottom as unsuitable for the project because of the company’s own concerns about its impact on neighbours.

Resident Valerie Axcell said: “It is brilliant news.

“They told us lorries would come straight off the A27 and cause no traffic, that it wouldn’t smell, that it wouldn’t make any noise.

“We didn’t believe anything they said.

“Personally I wouldn’t even want to see housing there.

“We have too many people, not too little housing, and I don’t want to see houses taking over our green fields but if its a choice between a waste digester or housing, I will take housing.”

The potential arrival of the digester caused a political row after Conservatives sent out leaflets claiming Labour councillors had voted for the scheme because they had

failed to support their amendment to have Hangleton Bottom removed from the Waste and Minerals Sites Plan.

Labour Councillor Peter Atkinson for North Portslade said: “It was totally obvious that it was a complete non-starter.

“Yet the Tories were behaving as if it was a done deal and the diggers were about to start work.

“This was scaremongering of the worst kind which has left a sour taste in the mouths of all four Portslade councillors and local residents.

“It was upsetting and stressful for no reason other than to try and gain a few extra votes.”

But Councillor Tony Janio, Conservative group leader and Hangleton and Knoll ward member, hit back.

He said: “We consider this to be a real victory for local people power and it is just a shame that the Labour councillors didn’t back residents by ruling out any waste plant on that site.

“Had they done so it would have saved residents all this unnecessary stress and uncertainty.

“This certainly wasn’t scaremongering on our part as there was a concrete proposal on the table which could quite easily have gone ahead.”