Thumbs down for sugar factory expansion

PUBLISHED: 11:25 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:03 03 July 2010

TWO parish councils voted against an increase in summer lorry traffic when they agreed unanimously to object to a £35m scheme to expand the sugar factory at Cantley, near Yarmouth.

TWO parish councils voted against an increase in summer lorry traffic when they agreed unanimously to object to a £35m scheme to expand the sugar factory at Cantley, near Yarmouth.

The villages of Cantley and Beighton both held special parish council planning meetings to consider their response to British Sugar's proposal to begin processing raw cane sugar during the summer to extend the factory's current five-month sugar beet operation.

The scheme would entail the construction of a new drive-through warehouse and lime production plant on the Limpenhoe side of the site and a massive upgrading of factory technology to reduce oil burning on site by 50pc and slash CO2 emissions.

The new summer business - using Third World cane sugar imported through Yarmouth's outer harbour - could build up to a maximum of 165 days operation.

At Cantley village hall, residents were given the chance to voice their concerns at a packed public meeting before the parish council meeting.

After listening to residents and an explanation of the plans by factory manager Simpson Ovans, parish council chairman Robert Beadle said the decision to object to the planning authority - the Broads Authority - had been taken unanimously.

He said: “Although we are aware there are people in the village who support the plans and we don't want to lose the factory, the main problem would be extra lorries over the summer. We are also worried by potential noise, even though we were assured this would not be a problem.”

Mr Beadle said if it had been feasible to bring the sugar into Cantley from Yarmouth on river barges - a possibility ruled out by

the factory in the early years -

there would have been far more support.

Katie Hinde, a parish councillor at Beighton, which held a similar meeting, said there had been unanimous votes to oppose the scheme taken by the council and 60 or more residents who packed the village hall.

She said: “People are prepared to put up with the sugar beet campaign from September to February, but they feel very strongly about any extension of working that would mean more lorries coming through the village in the summer.”

British Sugar says extending operations would create 25 direct and 100 indirect jobs as well as securing the plant's long-term future. It says there would only be 55 incoming lorries on summer operating days compared to up to 800 over the winter.

Mr Ovans said that, in response to the concerns raised, they would be seeking to provide more detailed evidence about potential noise, and discussing with local families their worries about the visual impact. They would also be talking to Norfolk County Council about traffic volumes.

The planning application will be determined at a Broads Authority meeting at County Hall, Norwich, on December 5.

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