Tree campaigner criticises ‘insulting’ Harrogate Spring Water claims
Feb 9, 2024
An artist's impression of how the expanded site will look.

The woman leading the campaign to save Rotary Wood has criticised comments by Harrogate Spring Water about its “new community woodland”.

The company, which is part of French multinational Danone, revealed yesterday it has submitted plans to expand its bottling plant off Harlow Moor Road in Harrogate.

Harrogate Spring Water has agreed to create a publicly accessible 1,200-tree woodland as compensation for felling about 450 trees in Rotary Wood.

Richard Hall, managing director at Harrogate Spring Water, said yesterday he hoped it “will become a valued resource for the local community for many years to come”.

Rotary Wood

His comment angered Sarah Gibbs, who has campaigned for hours while dressed in a tree costume as part of the long-running Save Rotary Wood campaign, said:

“This statement is an insult. We already have a “valued resource’. We have our four-acre asset of community value woodland that we planted 20 years ago thinking we’d enjoy the benefits for years to come.

“Danone intend to take this from us, offering a small strip of land filled with saplings as compensation. Rotary Wood is at the heart of our community and we have been fighting to keep it safe for over four years now.

“How long until they intend to expand again? The community will have no voice whatsoever with land owned by Danone. It’s difficult enough with council land… the people’s land!”

Plans not amended

The Stray Ferret has covered Harrogate Spring Water’s plans extensively. You can read a summary of the issue here.

The company held a public consultation event on its plans in November. However, the plans it has now submitted have not changed.

A company spokesperson said:

“The plans we have submitted are the same as those we presented at the public consultation in November.

“This is because, whilst we have received a range of views through our engagement with the local community, we have not received specific feedback on design elements to change. There were questions on our proposed new community woodland, such as types of planting, and our submission now shows some of these details.

“Full details of the plans will soon be live on the North Yorkshire Council planning portal, and residents will be able to submit their views on them. We will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout this process.”

Harrogate Spring Water received outline planning permission for expansion in 2017 from Harrogate Borough Council, which means the principle of development has been established.

The reserved matters application being put forward now to North Yorkshire Council contains details on the size and design of the expanded production facility as well as information on matters including landscaping.

Councillors on the Liberal Democrat-controlled 13-person Harrogate and Knaresborough planning committee will decide whether to approve the application.

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