Campaigners to protest at Harrogate Spring Water meeting
Last updated Nov 27, 2023
Sarah Gibbs protesting against Harrogate Spring Water's planned expansion
Sarah Gibbs at a previous protest.

Campaigners are to stage a protest at an event held by Harrogate Spring Water this week to discuss its expansion plans.

The company, which is part of French multinational Danone, revealed revised plans this month to expand its bottling plant off Harlow Moor Road. This would involve felling 450 trees planted by schoolchildren in nearby Rotary Wood to combat climate change.

Harrogate Spring Water has said it has a contractual agreement with a landowner to buy two acres of land and plant 1,200 saplings to offset the impact if its planning application is accepted. It claims this would lead to a net biodiversity gain on the site.

About 25 people opposed to the felling of trees attended a Save Rotary Wood event in Harrogate yesterday.

One of the children who planted the trees was among those attending, along with members of Zero Carbon Harrogate and Pinewoods Conservation Group, a North Yorkshire councillor and concerned individuals.

Activist Sarah Gibbs said she would protest in her tree costume at the public consultation event, which takes place at the Crown Hotel in Harrogate from 4pm to 7pm on Thursday.

Yesterday’s meeting also discussed developing a long-term strategy to save the trees and heard concerns about the wider impact development would have on the environment and Harrogate’s reputation.

Among the issues raised were more lorries using the site, whether greater water extraction would affect local water supply and the possibility of further expansion at the site.

Jessica Eaton, of Zero Carbon Harrogate, said:

“Where does it stop? And do we want Harrogate to be associated with plastic bottles? I’m fairly sure most people in Harrogate support us.”

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Arnold Warneken, the Green Party councillor for Ouseburn, said campaigners should focus on valid planning reasons for refusal.

One attendee described direct action as a “last resort” but “not inconceivable”.

Harrogate Spring Water already has outline planning permission, which means the principle of development has been established. It is now preparing a reserved matters planning application, which would agree the details.

Richard Hall, managing director of Harrogate Spring Water, said previously the company believed its revised plans addressed previous concerns and “create a way forward together for the local community and for ourselves as a growing Harrogate business”.

He added:

“We would like people to come and see for themselves what we have planned and how we aim to carry it out.”

Anyone who cannot come along on the day will still be able to see the plans and have their say here.