MORE than 150 residents turned out to a heated public meeting last night to hear details of plans for a large-scale sugar beet factory near their North Yorkshire homes.
Many had to hear the proceedings on speakers outside a packed Marton Village Hall as Mark Beardwood, of Al Khaleej Sugar, outlined plans for the £350m sugar beet factory near Allerton Castle.
Residents questioned the viability of the plan which aims to get 3,500 farmers to grow sugar beet to supply the plant with up to 36,000 tonnes a day.
Mr Beardwood said he hoped the plant would encourage farmers to invest in growing sugar beet and that the company, which planned to trade as Northern Sugar, was in talks with the National Farmers Union to encourage its members to invest in sugar beet.
But the audience, many of them farmers, slammed the scheme as hair-brained, disputing that enough farmers would grow the crop. In response to worries about smell he said technology had moved on since the last factory was built 50 years ago. However the impact on busy rural roads, especially the A59 and A168 with 3,500 lorry journeys a day, was a concern. Mr Beardwood said the company, which had looked at 27 other sites before deciding on Allerton Park, was carrying out a traffic management survey.
Visual impact of four 80-metre silos in a rural part of North Yorkshire was also a concern. Mr Beardwood admitted that he could not make the silos ‘disappear’ but they would build a bank around the site and plant trees on it.
He said the company already has agreement with the owners of the 286 acres site, North Yorkshire County Council, and that up to 350 jobs would be created at the site.
Paul Gill, of Reject Allerton Gridlock and Stink, an action group to fight the plans, said there was ‘zero support’ for the plan.
A planning application will be submitted in November.