Harrogate Spring Water accepts rejection of expansion plans and announces new application

Community and  environmental groups appear to have won at least partial success in their battle with Harrogate Spring Water over the firm’s expanson plans.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 5:39 pm
Harrogate Spring Water's latest announcement claims the new expansion plan will be “to the benefit the town and its natural environment.”

After a wrangle already lasting nearly five years, the latest twist and turn yesterday saw the bottled spa water company accept the rejection of its current plans by councillors in January - but issue a pledge to submit a new planning application in the coming weeks with details shared widely with the community.

Harrogate Spring Water’s previous expansion plans had run into opposition over the loss of trees at Rotary Wood and what campaigners argued was insufficient attention to environmental aspects near its plant at Harlow Hill.

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But the company’s latest announcement claims the new plan will be “to the benefit the town and its natural environment.”

James Cain, managing director of Harrogate Spring Water, said: “We care passionately about acting in the best interests of Harrogate, its people and its natural environment. And that’s why we listen to the community.

“Our vision is to create a sustainable future for our business as one that supports high quality jobs, drives prosperity in the town and looks after nature.

“We’ve taken on board the feedback on our original expansion plans. Now we’ll continue to engage with the community – actively seeking views on a revised plan that responds to people’s concerns and ambitions.

“We’ll also be clear in explaining our rationale, and why we believe this move is important from an environmental and economic perspective.

“We’ll provide a further update in the coming weeks.”

The local councillor for the area told the Harrogate Advertiser he welcomed the firm’s decision not to plough on regardless.

Coun Sam Gibbs (Valley Gardens ward) said: “The Harrogate Spring Water application generated considerable public interest when it was considered earlier in the year.

“I am pleased that Harrogate Spring Water will not be appealing the decision to refuse a further extension and

“I hope that provides some reassurance to residents who were concerned about the loss of public access to the Rotary Woods.

“It’s also important to remember that Harrogate Spring Water already has approval to extend their premises which was granted back in 2017 and know residents will welcome a dialogue on this proposal.”

Rotary Wood and Harrogate Spring Water: What’s behind controversy?

Rotary Wood in Harrogate was planted by local children 15 years ago and has since become a battleground in a long-running dispute between Danone-owned Harrogate Spring Water and local campaigners including TV presenter Julia Bradbury.

The bottled water company was given permission to expand in 2017 as its sales soared, but submitted a revised outline application for a larger site which was recommended for approval by the council’s planning department.

But its attempts to compensate for the loss of biodiversity and the removal of trees were rejected as derisory by groups including Pinewoods Conservation Group. Harrogate Civic Society, Harrogate Lib Dems and Harrogate Green Party who argued Harrogate Spring Water had to do more to prove their environmental credentials in the battle against climate change.