Harrogate Spring Water campaigners step-up plans to save trees
Feb 16, 2024
Campaigners at last night's meeting and the proposed new building.

Campaigners are to distribute tens of thousands of leaflets in Harrogate to rally support to oppose Harrogate Spring Water‘s expansion plans.

About 30 people attended a Save Rotary Wood group meeting last night to consider ways to prevent the company, which is part of French-owned Danone, being allowed to fell 450 trees the Pinewoods. The Stray Ferret also attended as part of our ongoing coverage of this issue. You can read a recent summary here.

Danone has submitted plans to North Yorkshire Council to expand its bottling plant into a section of the Pinewoods known as Rotary Wood, where schoolchildren planted trees in the 1990s to combat climate change.

Sarah Gibbs, who has led the campaign, voiced concerns that if this application is approved, further expansion could follow.

She quoted from Danone’s design and access statement, which talks about the company’s growth and need to expand. The document, which is among more than 100 available to view on the council’s planning portal, adds ‘this growth is expected to continue and as such an additional building(s) will be required to satisfy demand’.

Ms Gibbs said the suggestion of more than one new building was “extremely worrying” and indicated “this is not the end”.

Harrogate Spring Water protest

A previous banner campaign.

Danone has agreed to plant 1,500 saplings to create a new community woodland in land bought off a local landowner but several people at the meeting expressed fears that once it owned the land, it could be used for future expansion.

Ms Gibbs said:

“The land would be privately owned by Danone so in no way would it compensate for the loss of our community woodland.”

Harrogate Spring Water already has outline planning permission for the site, which means the principle of development has been established.

It has now submitted what is known as a reserved matters application, which seeks approval for details such as design and appearance.

The meeting heard various people give impassioned pleas about the impact of a bigger plastic bottling plant on the environment and how Harrogate should resist it. There were even calls for a legal challenge.

Harrogate Spring Water

Harrogate Spring Water’s headquarters.

But Arnold Warneken, a Green Party councillor who represents Ouseburn, warned campaigners not to get carried away with their emotions and to focus on legitimate planning reasons for opposing the scheme — and to take inspiration from what happened three years ago when councillors rejected the scheme despite being urged to approve it by a council officer.

He suggested the group may wish to push for the application to be deferred and referred to North Yorkshire Council’s strategic planning committee, which was created to assess major planning applications.

Campaigners agreed to distribute 10,000 leaflets — with tens of thousands more expected to be printed shortly.

You can view planning documents and comment on the application by visiting the council’s planning portal here and typing in reference number 20/01539/REMMAJ where it says ‘enter a keyword’.

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