Harrogate Spring Water has announced plans to plant 1,200 trees to offset concerns about the expansion of its bottling plant in the Pinewoods.
The French-owned company wants to fell trees in Rotary Wood, including some planted by schoolchildren in the 2000s, to expand its site on Harlow Moor Road in Harrogate.
It already has outline planning permission agreeing in principle to develop the site but North Yorkshire Council still has to agree to a reserved matters application agreeing to the site layout and design.
The company has been silent on its plans since a public consultation last summer but today said it would acquire two acres of land next to Rotary Wood and create a community woodland if its reserved maters planning application is approved.
It said this would replace the woodland impacted by the development and deliver a 10% increase in biodiversity levels in the area.
Richard Hall, managing director at Harrogate Spring Water, said:
“We promised before the public consultation last summer that we would listen to what people told us and take their feedback on board when deciding what we would do next.
“One of the things which came through clearly was that people were concerned about the potential loss of access to community woodland.
“Since then, we have been working long and hard on ways to address this which still allow us to expand operations on the site to meet the increasing demand for our products and invest further in the town.
“Our proposed new area of community woodland will be home to around 1,200 trees, will be fully accessible to the public and we hope it will become a valued resource for the local community for many years to come.
“It sits at the heart of our vision for the future of our operations in the town, fully part of the local community, and represents a significant part of the overall investment which we are making in expanding our presence in Harrogate.”
A Harrogate Spring Water press release today said the community woodland would result in a replacement rate of 3:1 for any trees removed during the expansion.
It added the company was “working alongside local forestry experts to identify other locations in Harrogate to plant an extra 1,500 trees, further improving the replacement rate”.
Harrogate Borough Council approved the outline planning permission for expansion in 2017. It was abolished in April and its successor, North Yorkshire Council, will adjudicate on the reserved matters application.
Harrogate Spring Water plans to hold a public consultation in November and will post information online here before submitting plans to North Yorkshire Council.
Mr Hall said:
“We want everyone to be able to see what we have planned and to be reassured that we have listened to and addressed their concerns.
“The town of Harrogate and its people are the foundation of our success as a business. So it is very important for us that, as we look to grow the company, create new job opportunities and invest further in the local and regional economy, we take time to listen to what the community has to say.
“I believe that our new plans demonstrate this commitment and our determination to act upon it.”
The expansion will create over 50 jobs and at least 20 construction jobs during the build phase.
‘A well-loved woodland’
Pinewoods Conservation Group said Harrogate Spring Water had “taken on board feedback” and added it hoped to be consulted on the proposed design.
A spokesperson for the group said:
“It has now been six years since outline planning was granted for this site and the loss of any green space and trees within our footprint will always be a disappointment to the Pinewoods Conservation Group.
“Rotary Wood, originally planted by local children and residents, has matured into a well-loved woodland used regularly by residents and visitors alike with obvious environmental and conservation benefits. However, we acknowledge that Danone have taken on board the feedback from ourselves and others regarding replacing this land with a proposal to purchase two acres of replacement land adjacent that could form an extension to the Pinewoods.
“The group has asked for direct input into the proposed design of this new area of woodland.
“When made available, we will review the full plans carefully, and as needed, seek relevant assurances around the future of this proposed land, accessibility, and detailed planting proposals. We would also encourage our members and residents to attend a planned consultation event for 30th November (full details to be confirmed) and let us know their thoughts regarding the reserved matters application.“