Harrogate Spring Water/ Danone have had their plans rejected for the extension of a water bottling plant, plans that would have seen the loss of an area of woodland.
Some points from the planning meeting:
- Cllr Par Marsh questioned if it was a declarable interest that HBC would benefit from the development, by way of fee – HBC legal said that is was not relevant
- The land is owned by HBC and adjacent to the current bottling plant
- Previously outline planning permission had been granted, but this application represented a 22% increase in the development land
- 408 objections and 28 supporting comments had been made to the application
- Although HSW were now providing a 2 for 1 on replacement trees it was on land with no public access, near to the as-was, Harrogate Arms/ Harlow Carr
- On the question of further expansion after this, development, taking more land Barton Wilmore (representing HSW on the development) said that would not happen and they would give their assurances of that – Cllr Jim Clark roundly dismissed that statement as simply not within their control to give that assurance.
- HBC planning said that the use of plastic was not part of the decision process
- Cllr Jim Clark questioned if water was pumped to the HSW site from other areas – HSW said they had to bore holes onsite and one around a mile away
- Cllr Marsh questioned in detail how this was following guidelines for both planning and sustainability and stopped at 5 questions by Cllr Mann
- Cllr Jim Clark described Harrogate Water “as the neighbours from hell” and Mike Pickering’s statements in the past about being good neighbours was simply not true. Mike Pickering later challenged that.
- HSW Mike Pickering said that they had a good approach to community
- Cllr Clarke questioned if the development was damaging to the image of Harrogate, a lorry load of plastic bottles per hour.
- 8 voted against and 4 abstained
Neil Hind, Chair of Pinewoods Conservation Group who spoke at the meeting said:
We thank the planning committee for their considered debate and we are very pleased with their outcome to reject this application.
We also thank all those groups, supporters and residents who have supported our campaign that has been much appreciated.
We will now be asking Harrogate Council at their meeting on 10th February to confirm, following the massive public backlash to these proposals, that they have no plans to sell or lease any part of Rotary Wood, now or in the future.
We know that this is a critical step in preserving Rotary Wood. Danone will now need to think very carefully on next steps if they decide to come back with a full application for the smaller extension where outlining planning is currently approved.
Harrogate Council will also have a very difficult decision considering the public backlash on this application if they want to progress on the sale or leasing of any part of the woods.
The asset of community value was shown to be a material consideration in the final decision so hopefully the community will be able to enjoy Rotary Wood for many generations to come.
Jemima Parker of Zero Carbon Harrogate, said:
This is a pivotal decision by the HBC Planning Committee. Zero Carbon Harrogate are delighted that the councillors clearly acknowledged that the world has changed, we are in a biodiversity and climate crisis, we cannot go on with business as usual.
They have creatively used the planning legislation to signal that Harrogate District are taking their commitment a zero carbon emissions seriously. We look forward to continuing to work with them to continue to bring the benefits of a green economy to Harrogate.
A spokesperson for the Harrogate District Climate Action Network said:We are very pleased with the planning decision to refuse the larger expansion into Rotary Wood. It is essential that community tree planting and green spaces are protected in the Harrogate District as part of a commitment to address the challenges of climate change and bring the community together to do this.
Speaking on behalf of Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition, Kirsty Hallett said:
It is great to know that the Harrogate Borough Council Planning Committee and many local residents recognise the natural carbon capture and storage value of Rotary Wood, as well as its wider biodiversity and social benefits.
This commitment of local people to our environment gives the Coalition confidence that we will have support from the community as we promote changes which will help residents and businesses in the District to rapidly decarbonise.
We know that most of our greenhouse gas emissions need to come to an end within the next ten years. The majority of this will be achieved through reducing our demand for fossil fuel energy in our homes, travel and commerce. We are publishing a climate action survey for residents later this week, followed by a questionnaire for businesses. The responses of local people will help the Coalition to ensure that we can helpfully and clearly communicate the information people want to know about how to reduce their carbon footprints.
Rob Pickering, a senior spokesperson for Harrogate Spring Water, said:
We’re disappointed by the committee’s decision to reject the revision of our planning application.
We have been able to clearly demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits, as well as outline our commitment to leaving a positive environmental impact. At this stage, we will need to consider our options and decide on our next steps.
However, irrespective of this decision, we would like to reassure our local community that we are committed to keeping them informed and involved with any environmental measures and landscaping developments at the Harrogate Spring Water site in the future.