A group of protesters demonstrated outside Harrogate Spring Water’s public consultation event this evening in opposition to the company’s latest expansion plans
Members of the Save Rotary Wood Again group stood outside the Crown Hotel, in Harrogate, to campaign against the company’s revised plans to expand its bottling plant off Harlow Moor Road, which involve felling 450 trees planted by schoolchildren to combat climate change.
It comes after the company, which is part of Danone, announced it is in a contractual agreement with a landowner to buy two acres of land and plant 1,200 saplings – which it said would equate to around a 3:1 replacement of those removed during expansion – to offset the impact if the reversed matters planning application is accepted.
It claims this would deliver a 10% increase in current biodiversity levels in the area, as well as boost the level of economic output generated by the company to around £6.2 million per year.
However, one member of the group, Sarah Gibbs, who wore a tree costume at the protest, feels the new community woodland is “just a tick box exercise”.
“They’ve done it to tick boxes and get public access. We just want our woods safe.”
When asked about what alternative plans the group feels may be suitable, Ms Gibbs said:
“We just don’t want to develop into the woodland.
“They could take it into the car park and get a coach to work to be considered ‘green’.”
Another campaigner, Matt Jacobs, added:
“We’re at a point in life whereby we must reconsider single use plastic – it shouldn’t event be legal to sell it.”
However, despite the group opposing the plan, Harrogate Spring Water already has outline planning permission, and it is now preparing the reserved matters planning application to agree and finalise the details.
At the event, managing director Richard Hall told the Stray Ferret:
“Following last year’s public consultation, we listened and we knew people were concerned about the loss woodland.
“I hope people will see this evening we’ve listened and worked on their feedback, and that this an opportunity for the community.”
Mr Hall said the company understands people’s concerns and said the campaigners “have the right to protest”.
He added that Harrogate Spring Water had “worked hard” to balance investment into the community, jobs, and the environment.
The company said the expansion will create more than 50 jobs and at least 20 construction jobs during the development phase.
In addition, it says it is working alongside local forestry experts to identify other locations in Harrogate where an additional 1,500 trees will be planted to further improve the replacement rate.
The Stray Ferret has reported on Harrogate Spring Water’s plans extensively. You can read more on the topic here.