What Greens think of expansion by Harrogate Spring Water

With the extended deadline for objections set for next Monday, Harrogate and District Green Party is to meet Harrogate Spring Water to talk about the firm’s expansion plans.

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 11:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 11:35 am
Members of Harrogate and District Green Party are to meet Harrogate Spring Water about its expansion plans.

The party's coordinator Rebecca Maunder said: “We have collated questions from our members and want to get across ways businesses can operate with consideration for the local communities and the environment.”

Members of Pinewoods Conservation Groups concerned at the bottled water company’s plans to expand into Rotary Wood, are studying a new ecology report showing the expansion would result in a net loss in biodiversity of 6.45%.

They were boosted recently by news that the Pinewoods has been granted a renewal of its Asset of Community Value designation.

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The Pinewoods, including Rotary Woods and Irongate Field, was first offered additional protection under the Localism Act in 2015 for an initial five years.

This extension, the first ever granted by Harrogate Council, will see this protection extended to March 2025.

This does not offer any additional protection but is a continuation of the current protection.

But it will mean that the impact on the community must be a consideration in any planning decision by Harrogate Borough Council.

It will also impact on any decision by Harrogate Council as landowner should they decide to sell or lease Rotary Wood or any other part of the Pinewoods.

The much-awaited Ecological Report on the environmental impact of the Harrogate Spring Water Limited (HSWL)/Danone plans has now been published.

The study commissioned by HSWL and carried out in July 2019 documents the impact the development will have.

Ecology report on expansion plans: What Harrogate Spring Water says

Harrogate Spring Water's brand manager Nicky Cain said: "We have now received the ecology report and performed the biodiversity accounting exercise.

"The assessment demonstrates that based on the proposed development, there is currently a small net loss in biodiversity of 6.45%.

"As a business we are committed to ensuring that our project results in a net positive impact and gain in biodiversity.

"Our priority in the first instance, is to do so on-site, as part of the landscaping exercise and with completion of the detailed design.

"In addition, we can now confirm that we are also in advanced discussions with a nearby landowner regarding a parcel of land to be utilised for any additional mitigation.

"The land enable two for one tree planting where required and shall provide an enhanced habitat for biodiversity improvements.

"We have continued to engage with local groups such as Pinewoods and Rotary and have listened and acted on their concerns.

"We have also reached out to the Green Party, inviting them to learn more about our plans and our commitment to bringing not only economic benefits to the town, but also to ensuring that our project results in a net positive environmental impact and gain in biodiversity."

Ecology report on expansion plans: What Harrogate and District Green Party says

Harrogate and District Green Party's coordinator Rebecca Maunder said: "The ecological survey has finally been published but does not account for the true extent of habitat loss the proposal would cause.

"There is a recommendation in the report that no further specific species surveys are required.

"This highlights the limited extent of the survey - which was conducted on one day last year and is admittedly macro scale only - so no micro analysis, which would identify presence of these species, has been carried out.

"Despite off site compensation for the loss of woodland being acknowledged as essential if this development is permitted, no suitable land or compensation scheme has been proposed by the applicant.

"Given, on the one hand Harrogate Climate Coalition have identified a need to plant more trees in the area, it would be ludicrous to allow the removal of valuable woodland on the other.

"Harrogate Biodiversity Action Plan identifies a need to increase local woodland cover from 6 per cent to the national level of 11.6 per cent, concentrating on extending and linking existing sites".

Harrogate Borough Council’s full planning committee will decide on the plans on March 31.