Letter: Bottling Plant - Environmental harmony

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My attention has been drawn to the planning application to extend the current water bottling plant on Harlow Moor Road to about double its current size which will create 10 new jobs.

In order to do so, the factory will extend over the whole of the Rotary Centenary Wood which is at the rear of the current buildings.

This land, extending over 4.25 acres was given by the council to the Rotary Club of Harrogate in 2005 on which to plant trees after the club had founded the Pinewoods Conservation Group, and the writer had been its founder chairman for its first three years.

The idea was to provide a valuable wild life habitat between The Pinewoods and Irongates field.

Unfortunately ground conditions were too poor for some species, so a programme of infilling took place over the years creating the wood as it is today.

A hedge was planted adjacent to the existing boundary with the bottling plant as a screen, and a footpath linking the Pinewoods to Irongates field was also installed at the top end of the field. The planting was carried out in many instances by children and parents, schools, Open Country and the Army Foundation College along with Rotarians, and even two different Mayors and an MP.

Extending the factory over this area will not only spoil the trees, some of which are well over 10 feet tall, but isolate the wood in Irongates field, cutting it off from The Pinewoods. There are also wild orchids growing there which will be lost.

Of course the council can argue that the Harrogate Spa bottling plant provides a huge advertisement for Harrogate, and they could take the Donald Trump attitude of jobs first and forget the environment, but I was always of the impression that Harrogate was particularly proud of its environmental enlightenment, especially when it comes to Harrogate in Bloom.

The council has a policy of planting two trees for every one felled, but apparently, I have been told, it does not apply to woodland! If the only alternative, and I query whether a much better solution which would avoid most of the tree felling would be to use the part of Irongates field nearest the road, then perhaps they would consider offering alternative land on which the applicant could plant suitable trees under the umbrella of both the council and Rotary, and perhaps even on a two-for-one basis?

Terry Knowles

Harrogate