Harrogate Spring Water investigating new water sources on council land
Sep 28, 2022

Harrogate Borough Council granted permission for Harrogate Spring Water to test the council’s borehole at its horticultural nursery on Harlow Hill, documents reveal — so the company could explore a potential new water source. 

The Stray Ferret has obtained emails between the company and the council via a freedom of information request. They reveal Harrogate Spring Water tested the borehole in May this year and is continuing to investigate groundwater in the area.

Boreholes are used to extract water from the ground. Harrogate Spring Water bottles water from a bore hole at its headquarters on Harlow Moor Road, on land owned by the council and leased to the company.

Much of the land surrounding the facility, including the Pinewoods and Harlow Hill nursery, is also owned by the council.

As part of the firm’s lease agreement with the council, water is extracted from two boreholes on the Harlow Moor Road site. There is a third borehole on Pennypot Bridge.

The council grows its floral displays at Harlow Hill nursery and sells plants, pots and compost to the public there, although it plans to sell the site for housing and move the nursery elsewhere. It also has a on-site borehole that it uses to water plants.

Investigations in the area

Harrogate Spring Water is set to submit fresh plans to increase the size of its bottling plant within the next few months and emails suggest the company may also be looking for new sources of water to help the company expand.

An email from Harrogate Spring Water to the council, dated June 6, reveals the council gave the company permission to perform “some testing work” on its borehole at Harlow Hill nursery in the previous month.

However, it says the results “weren’t what Harrogate Spring were looking for”.

Email from Harrogate Spring Water to Harrogate Borough Council on June 6

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The email continues to say the company would like to survey the land around Harlow Moor Road to find out “where the best potential for water might be and how the water is working”.

Follow-up emails between two council officers, whose names were redacted, query if these tests are to identify new water sources.

A spokesperson for Pinewoods Conservation Group, the charity that looks after the Pinewoods, said the testing of boreholes in the area was a “major concern”.

They said the charity had received reports from visitors of investigative works taking place in the Pinewoods recently, adding:

“We’ve had assurances before around no further expansion plans but confirmation that more boreholes are being investigated around the Pinewoods area is a major concern for us.

“Several visitors reported seeing investigative works happening within the Pinewoods itself recently, without any notice of this from either Harrogate Spring Water or Harrogate council.

“We would encourage all parties to be transparent on their longer terms plans and involve the relevant stakeholders as required.”

Harrogate Spring Water’s statement

A spokesperson for Harrogate Spring Water confirmed it had performed testing at the council borehole at Harlow Nurseries. It said this was to “understand the potential availability of water” from beneath the ground.

They said it is also exploring the land around Harlow Moor Road and the Pinewoods for similar reasons.

They described this as a “routine part” of the management of their water sources.

The spokesperson also said the company had “no immediate plans” for a new borehole, but that if “an opportunity to enhance our water security arose”, they would consider it.

The full statement is below:

“Over the summer, we have been doing a geophysical survey of parts of the land to the rear of our facility in order to create a 3D map of its geology.

“The reason for the survey is to better understand the bedrock geology in the area as part of our aquifer management and to better understand the potential water capability of the aquifer. This is a routine part of the responsible management of our water source, alongside work such as weekly monitoring of borehole performance via depth and meter readings and weekly rainfall recording.

“We work with a local family-run company that helps us manage our boreholes and explore the areas around Harrogate for new sustainable sources of high-quality water, which is a prudent part of responsible water management.

“We have no immediate plans for a new borehole, but if an opportunity to enhance our water security arose, and a landowner showed an interest in having us drill on their land, we would work with that landowner and the Environment Agency to ensure that any source was 100% sustainable, in compliance with the regulatory regime.

“The boreholes which we use take up only a few square metres of land, which is normally in a corner of a field or hidden by a screen of shrubs or trees.”