The campaigners have previously organised two walks into the Pinewoods, handing out leaflets to create awareness locally of the threat to the woods and encouraging people to object.
Coordinator Rebecca Maunder said:
We collated questions from our members to put to Harrogate Spring Water on Friday and want to get across ways businesses can operate with consideration for the local communities and the environment. As a community we want to make sure that our environments are not destroyed for the sake of private profits and we also need to limit the impacts of any increased water extraction so that it does not have further and longer term consequences for ecosystems and agriculture downstream.
The ecological survey has finally been published but does not account for the true extent of habitat loss the proposal would cause. There is a recommendation in the report that no further specific species surveys are required.
This highlights the limited extent of the survey – which was conducted on one day last year and is admittedly macro scale only – so no micro analysis, which would identify presence of these species, has been carried out. Despite off site compensation for the loss of woodland being acknowledged as essential if this development is permitted, no suitable land or compensation scheme has been proposed by the applicant
Given, on the one hand Harrogate Climate Coalition have identified a need to plant more trees in the area, it would be ludicrous to allow the removal of valuable woodland on the other. Harrogate Biodiversity Action Plan identifies a need to increase local woodland cover from 6 per cent to the national level of 11.6 per cent, concentrating on extending and linking existing sites.
Local teacher, Sarah Gibbs dressed as a tree to raise awareness about the issue. Sarah said:
Our government have declared a climate emergency; Harrogate Borough Council have a responsibility to act on this, rather than to support the destruction of an important eco-system, for profit. We teach our children to respect our planet and yet, our local council consider cutting down trees the community planted.
That is a terrible message to send to our children. Global corporation Danone; one of the top five plastic polluters in the world, have recently acquired a majority stake in Harrogate Spring Water. Plastic is forever. PET plastic has limited recyclability and 50% of each bottle is made from new plastic. We need more trees, not more plastic.
Objectors to the proposal plan to meet again at Harrogate cenotaph to walk to Valley Gardens/Pinewoods for a final push this Sunday 15th March 11am, before the extended deadline for objections 8am Monday 16 March.