North Yorkshire residents hit out at sugar beet factory plans

Residents and farmers told a heated public meeting last night that plans for a large £350m sugar beet factory in North Yorkshire were unviable and that there was zero support for the plant.

More than 150 people filled Marton Village Hall and even more stood outside while the meeting was broadcast over speakerphones. Mark Beardwood, representing developers Al Khaleej, outlined plans for the plant near to Allerton Castle.

He told the meeting that company would trade as Northern Sugar and that it would process up to 36,000 tonnes a day; supplied by sugar beat produced by around 3,500 farmers. He said the plant would create 250-350 jobs, as well as support further haulage jobs.

But farmers at the meeting questioned the support and viability for growing the sugar in the area. One said: “It’s a positioning question. Nobody here is growing sugar. Why not build it where the stuff is growing rather where the stuff is not?”

Beardwood said that the company was liaising with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and that it was hoped local farmers would be encouraged to grow sugar beet on a rotational basis.

Many residents raised issues around increased traffic movements due to the HGVs needing to access the site. It was projected that there would be around 3,500 movements a day, mainly using the A59 and A168. Beardwood said that the company would be commissioning a traffic management survey.

Concerns over smells that would be produced by the plant were responded to by Beardwood as being something that would not be an issue due to newer technologies since the last sugar beet factory was built 50 years ago. Others raised issues of the height of the 80 metre silos and the impact they would have on the landscape.  Beardwood added that they would build a bank around the site and plant trees on it but he could not make the silos disappear.

An audience member said: “This is an invasion of the beautiful countryside of Yorkshire. We are being invaded, we do not want your plant and we do not want your wagons.”

Several other branded the plans as unviable and hair-brained. Another added: “You have zero support for your sugar beet plant.”

A planning application will be submitted in November.