James and Nicky Cain
James and Nicky Cain

Harrogate Water respond to our questions over their proposed plastic water bottling plant expansion

11 February 2020

Nicky Cain from Harrogate Spring Water has responded to a number of our questions on their proposed expansion of their plastic bottle, bottling plant in Harrogate.

From a business perspective, why is this development needed?

As producers of natural source water, regulations state we must be sited where we are. We’re immensely proud to continue Harrogate’s spa heritage but have a need to grow in order to continue to do what we do – retaining business, creating more jobs, as well as contributing to our local and regional economy and promoting the name of Harrogate. As we continue to grow, we require additional production capacity to support growing demand for a fantastic, premium high-quality British brand.

The plastic bottled water market is going through change, is this development still relevant given the global backlash against plastic bottled water?

The global bottled water market continues to grow, with a move towards healthier products. Whilst the UK market remains flat during a tough economic climate, we are proud to be seeing growth of +20% year on year, supplying many iconic British companies and institutions.

Natural source water is very different to tap water. Tap water is disinfected and chemically treated to make it safe to drink. Natural source water cannot be treated or changed in any way. Our water is up to 1,000 years old and absolutely pure. Some people prefer the taste of natural source water. We advocate choice and know from studies that to take the choice of natural source water away, means more people choose sugary drinks and caffeinated energy drinks – all having a contribution to our growing obesity, diabetes and dental health crisis.

Whilst there remains a concern over ‘plastics’, particularly since Blue Planet; there is also much ill-informed debate. It is fact that PET plastic is 100% recyclable, uses less CO² to produce than alternative packaging and benefits from an established recycling infrastructure provided by 100% of Local Authorities. PET plastic provides a sustainable packaging solution, whereby a bottle can become another bottle – again and again, if recycled. As the debate rightly turns towards climate change, it is clear that PET has considerably less impact on global warming than other packaging materials and should in fact be viewed as an appropriate choice of packaging material when buying packaged beverages.

You have previously run a roadshow of the proposal, but you submitted very different plans in December 2019, plans that show a 40% increase in the development, why is that?

In preparing and submitting this application, we have consulted again with the Local Authority, our neighbours and the wider community on the proposals and have ensured that those previous landscaping principles remain fundamental to the redevelopment.  We are an extremely considered business with strong ethics and morals. We have no alternative but to be sited where we are, because we bottle natural source water. Approval for the principle of a larger extension was sought following our continued growth and to secure the long-term needs of the business.

As well as our strong British brand credentials, our customers have responded very positively to our sustainable practices, helping us to become the fastest growing water brand in the UK. This is something that we know Harrogate residents are very proud of, living in a town that has been famous for its waters for half a millennium.

I have often been away and seen Harrogate Water plastic bottles littering places and that makes me feel embarrassed for Harrogate. Do you think Harrogate should be seen as a major producer of plastic bottles?

The challenge here is actually around consumer education and understanding of recycling. Harrogate bottles are 100% recyclable and if recycled through readily available recycling streams, can come back as a bottle again and again. Harrogate has a proud and illustrious history of providing bottled water since 1741 and it is upon our world-famous waters that our town was founded. As a producer of a product that has won the accolade of ‘best water in the world’, the town should be immensely proud that we carry the baton for today’s generation, of continuing to provide naturally sourced water for all to enjoy.

PET plastic has the lowest carbon footprint of any available packaging and produces fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions. All our bottles are 100% recyclable and use the maximum amount of UK recycled content. We have been zero to landfill since 2010, proudly hold ISO14001 for our environmental practices and have partnered with Keep Britain Tidy since 2016; working with customers to encourage recycling, ensuring a bottle can become another bottle again and again.

This is not a typical planning application, you are requesting to build on land owned by HBC. That means HBC are really custodians of that land for the people of Harrogate, how will the people of Harrogate benefit from this development, if it were to go through?

In this increasingly tough economic climate, we continue to proudly celebrate Harrogate’s spa heritage. The development would help the sustainability of our business, creating more jobs and adding to the 100 people that we already employ: significantly contributing to our local and regional economy and promoting the name of Harrogate. It would continue to allow us to play a strong part in our local community. In a town where the high street, much like towns all over the country is seeing shops closing and people losing their jobs, the opportunity to provide additional employment opportunities should be applauded. The 0.81 hectares of retained land will provide public open space. Access will be improved, coupled with positive landscaping, educational boards and compensatory planting, offering benefits for years to come.

How many bottles will the new plant have the capability of producing?

This will be dependent on the production equipment and format required, in response to consumer demand and continued innovation around sustainable practices.

To comment on the planning application see Harrogate Borough Council website https://uniformonline.harrogate.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=Q2TMLXHYLCO00


  1. I appreciate the bottles may be recyclable but what about the black plastic tops? HBC don’t take black plastic.

  2. So funny that the company believe they are “producing“ natural water.
    “The global bottled water industry are going through change at the moment” Yes we don’t want your plastic bottled water and happy with tap water, especially with a cold press teabag in it carried in a metal canteen.

  3. I think they forget the water is owned by the British people not Harrogate water/Danone! You don’t need to expand it’s just greed. If you want to be greedy we can put you on a leash and revoke your license to the water. Don’t forget the British people (government) have the power not Harrogate/ Danone water!

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