Major land sale terms agreed for sugar beet factory near Harrogate

North Yorkshire County Council's Executive gave approval for a price to be set

A 'substantial amount' has been agreed upon for the major sale of land near Harrogate where a sugar beet factory could be built.

It has been confirmed North Yorkshire County Council's Executive gave approval for a price to be set on council owned land at Thornber Farm in Marton Cum Grafton.

Worried residents were told at a parish meeting last week a signed agreement had been made, Al Khaleej International Ltd agreeing to pay for the land if planning approval is given.

Vice-Chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, Coun Robert Windass said: "The land is under the ownership of North Yorkshire County Council and they have negotiated with Al Khaleej International Ltd. I am told that the price is substantially more than the value of the land and heads of terms have been entered into. The sale however is subject to planning permission."

The decision to request a signed set of terms by the developer was decided and approved by the Executive, it will not have to be approved by the rest of the council.

No further details including the amount that could be paid has been provided by the county council. A press office spokesperson said it could confirm the sale of the land has not been completed but additional information is considered commercially sensitive.

The news has angered residents campaigning against the proposed development. They say details should be released so residents can know if the land will be sold based on agricultural valuations, particularly if a company could be developing the land for commercial use.

Paul Gill of Stop the Beet Factory said: "The issue we have is that the county council that is potentially agreeing to sell land with an agricultural valuation that could be going for commercial use. Although this would be down to approval we are wary of the situation.

He added: "If they are planning to erect an industrial processing plant on the site then they should be paying a higher price."

The international sugar company have also confirmed that an agreed amount is now in place.

Mark Beardwood, Project Director for Al Khaleej International Ltd said:"In terms of the overall plan it is to benefit the people of Yorkshire and to replicate the plant that used to be in York."

He added: "The sale agreement is a commercial issue so are not willing to speak in much detail over it. However I will say that it is an appropriate amount for the site."

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