Harrogate Spring Water ‘reviewing plans’ to expand bottling plant ahead of new application
Since 2017, the Danone-owned firm has had outline planning permission to expand its factory next to the Pinewoods. But controversially, this would involve chopping down trees at Rotary Wood, a public woodland that includes trees planted by schoolchildren in the 2000s.
In January 2021, a high-profile reserved matters application that was 40 per cent larger than the outline permission and looked to fell more trees than had been agreed was turned down by Harrogate Borough Council‘s planning committee. The application generated a public backlash and led to a national debate about how a successful businesses can expand in the area of climate change and plastic pollution.
Following the refusal, Harrogate Spring Water confirmed it was putting together another keenly-anticipated reserved matters application that will show what the new building will look like. Crucially, it will also say where the new trees will be replanted.
The company held a public consultation event at the Crown Hotel in Harrogate last July where representatives, including managing director Richard Hall, spoke to residents about the plans. Eight months later, the company has still not submitted the reserved matters application but a Harrogate Spring Water spokesperson said it remains committed to doing so. The application will be decided by the new Harrogate & Knaresborough planning committee on North Yorkshire Council.
A spokesperson for Harrogate Spring Water said: “Following the public consultation last year, we have and are continuing to review the feedback and develop the scheme. We are reviewing our plans in light of feedback we have received and are working towards a solution that will deliver for the people of Harrogate, the town and for Harrogate Spring Water.
“We are currently exploring options to address points raised during the course of our consultation process and remain committed to a detailed public consultation on these plans when we are ready to share the updated scheme. We plan to host a public drop-in exhibition, as well as engage with key local groups. As yet, we are unable to put a precise date on when this will take place, but we are working towards achieving this in as timely a manner as possible.”
At a meeting of the Harrogate & Knaresborough area constituency committee, campaigner Sarah Gibbs quoted the council’s own planning policies when she addressed councillors about why she believes the expansion should not go ahead. As several members of the committee will sit on the new council’s planning committee, including chair Pat Marsh, they did not take part in any debate or ask questions.
Ms Gibbs has organised protests against the plans for several years and previously held a weekly vigil outside the council offices dressed as a tree.
She said: “Having finally recognised the state of emergency of the planet’s climate, it’s becoming more obvious that nature does not care for our laws policies or planning issues. Nature will act. The climate will continue to worsen unless we act, and we must act now. For what we do now is all that matters. What we choose to do now will determine or future, childrens future and future of the planet.”