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Sugar factory expansion approved again

PUBLISHED: 10:15 06 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:36 03 July 2010

Growth plans: The British Sugar factory at Cantley has won planning approval for a £35m expansion.

Growth plans: The British Sugar factory at Cantley has won planning approval for a £35m expansion.

A £35m scheme to expand the British Sugar factory at Cantley, near Yarmouth, has been given the go-ahead at the second attempt.

The plans, which would pave the way for all-year-round working at the plant, with imported sugar cane being processed during the summer, were put before the Broads Authority's planning committee again yesterday, two months after they were originally approved.

A £35m scheme to expand the British Sugar factory at Cantley, near Yarmouth, has been given the go-ahead at the second attempt.

The plans, which would pave the way for all-year-round working at the plant, with imported sugar cane being processed during the summer, were put before the Broads Authority's planning committee again yesterday, two months after they were originally approved.

The re-run was agreed after some Cantley residents claimed they were not notified of the date and venue of the first meeting at the Broads Authority's Norwich headquarters and therefore lost the chance to put over their objections in a slot allocated for public speaking.

The dispute centred on an e-mail sent to Robert Beadle, chairman of Cantley Parish Council, by a Broads Authority official, which gave an assurance that “all parties who comment in writing on a planning application determined by the planning committee are sent a copy of the agenda”.

At yesterday's meeting, committee members were advised to “forget what you heard at the last meeting and approach the issues with an open mind”.

However, despite impassioned objections from retired barrister and Cantley resident Gary Simons - who had led villagers' calls for a second hearing - the committee unanimously agreed to British Sugar's plans.

Mr Simons argued that the Broads Local Plan said fresh development on the site could only be permitted provided there was no significant, adverse effect on residents or the environment.

He said local residents already faced issues of noise, which meant they could not sleep with their windows open in the summer, and soot pollution which covered cars.

Fellow resident Richard Holmes claimed villagers' objections had not been considered in their entirety, and amid all the debate about the safety risks of lorries carrying sugar cane from Yarmouth's outer harbour, the Acle Straight had not even been mentioned.

British Sugar spokesman Robert Clarke said the company was proposing to mitigate the impact of lorry traffic in a number of ways.

The 20 lorries carrying sugar cane would be under the direct control of British Sugar, which would limit operations to 12 hours a day.

It had also agreed a contribution of £100,000 for road safety improvements and to participate in a study to see if transporting raw sugar by barge up the River Yare would be feasible in the future.

Committee vice-chairman Murray Gray said it was typical of a large-scale planning application in that there were both benefits and impacts.

However, the economic benefits were important as British Sugar had made it clear the investment would secure the long-term future of a major employer. There were also environmental pluses because part of the scheme involved building a new evaporator plant that would reduce energy consumption.

Authority chairman Stephen Johnson said the application had to be considered in the context of the factory having been there for nearly a century - the proposed new building would not be obtrusive, Natural England had made it clear there was no significant impact on wildlife, and the impact of the extra lorry traffic could not be considered that great.


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