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On 26 February 2020, Danone announced that they are to acquire a majority stake in Harrogate Water Brands Ltd.
The current shareholders of Harrogate Water, the Cain family, will remain as minority shareholders and continue to contribute to the growth of the company.
Harrogate Water are controversially wanting to expand their water bottling plant into an area of woodland adjacent to the current plant.
Danone have said that they are committed to eliminating deforestation from their supply chain. They signed the United Nations New York Declaration on Forests, recognizing the importance of reducing the emissions caused by deforestation and increasing forest restoration. The goal is to eliminate deforestation in the supply chain by 2020 – working with NGOs, academics, suppliers and farming communities for sustainable sourcing solutions.
We asked Danone how meeting the objective to not deforest could be met if they now intend to continue a policy of the expansion of Harrogate Water into an area of Woodland.
A spokesperson for Danone said:
Danone is committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain by 2020 as a global approach, with a particular focus on soy, paper and palm oil.
In the case of Harrogate Water’s expansion plan, Harrogate’s long-term vision for the site is aligned with Danone’s and we are pleased to note that Harrogate Water has engaged conservation experts to perform an ecological survey and will be establishing a replantation scheme within the local region to ensure the conservation of the local environment.
Neil Hind, Chair of the Pinewoods Conservation Group said:
Although we were surprised at the timing of the announcement with the planning committee just weeks away we are encouraged by the seemingly strong environmental commitments of new owners Danone.
We are especially pleased to see their commitment to eliminating deforestation and its commitment to achieving zero net deforestation in key commodity sectors this year.
It is hoped that such commitments are not just commercial greenwashing and that the new owners will now pause the planning application and reconsider the environmental impact of their plans on the Pinewoods. With over 100 objections there is a clear push back from local residents who tell us enough is enough!