Approval for sugar factory expansion

THE bygone days of barges loaded with sugar cane cruising along the River Yare resurfaced on Friday as the green light was given to a �35m extension of a sugar factory.

THE bygone days of barges loaded with sugar cane cruising along the River Yare resurfaced on Friday as the green light was given to a �35m extension of a sugar factory.

British Sugar hopes to start processing imported raw sugar from next May after the Broads Authority said it could extend operations at its plant at Cantley, near Yarmouth.

The new processing plant will mean the factory running throughout the summer months - creating an average of 119 new lorry movements a day between Yarmouth's Outer Harbour and Cantley.

In a bid to appease villagers who strongly objected to the lorries on safety and noise grounds, British Sugar told Friday's planning meeting it would examine using barges instead to transport the sugar cane.

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The company said it was willing to provide �5,000 towards a barge feasibility study on using the River Yare.

For several decades from the 1920s, the river was full of sugar-carrying craft going to the factory, known as the Ship of the Broads for its plumes of billowing smoke.

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To give added impetus to the possibility of sugar barges once again traversing the Broads, British Sugar said it would form a working party with the Broads Authority to see if the river transport plan could work.

Simpson Ovans, manager of the Cantley plant, said: “We are dedicated to investigating the river solution.”

However, Mr Ovans said it would be years before any barge could take to the water and that British Sugar had not spoken to boat companies about setting a sugar transport route.

The joint working party will also look at transporting raw sugar cane by train instead of lorry.

To ease traffic concerns, British Sugar is ploughing �100,000 in to road safety schemes around Cantley and neighbouring Beighton to mitigate the impact of the company's new fleet of 20 sugar trucks.

The company will also install GPS tracking systems in each lorry to ensure they do not speed or travel in groups along the A47 from Yarmouth to Cantley.

After the meeting, chairman of Cantley Parish Council Robert Beadle said although he and other villagers were upset the plans had been approved, he hoped British Sugar would do its best to limit the impact of the new lorry movements.

As well as a new warehouse and processing plant, British Sugar was given permission to install an eco-friendly evaporator plant to cut down on energy use.

British Sugar made the planning application because it says it needs to extend its operations and cut energy costs due to growing economic pressures.

The Broads Authority unanimously approved the plan as members felt it would bolster the local economy and safeguard the hundreds of sugar beet farmers in the region.

The committee insisted on the working group as a condition of approval.

The plant operates 155 days year from September to March, with 400 lorries a day delivering sugar beet.

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