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Let’s not call the whole thing off: Developers of huge tomato greenhouses appeal against refusal

23 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Greenhouses which are on a similar scale to the Wrexham proposal constructed by Low Carbon Farming in East Anglia. Source: Low Carbon Farming

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

Developers behind plans worth £50m to build two large greenhouses in Wrexham have launched an appeal over the refusal of the proposals.

Brighton-based Low Carbon Farming submitted an application in August last year to install two 7.6 hectare commercial greenhouses near Marchwiel.

The company said the scheme would deliver 150 jobs and supply 40 per cent of the tomatoes consumed in Wales.

The firm later hit out at delays by Wrexham Council in deciding on the plans, which it said meant it had missed out on UK Government tariffs.

Planning officers announced they had denied permission for the project at the end of October because of concerns over the scale of the development, as well as the impact on traffic and local wildlife.

The company has now lodged an appeal to have the decision overturned after highlighting the economic benefits of the scheme, which would be located next to Dwr Cymru’s Five Fords waste water treatment works.

In an appeal statement sent to the Planning Inspectorate, agents acting on behalf of Low Carbon Farming said: “Planning policy recognises that there is a need for modern farm buildings such as that proposed and that farming practices need to ‘change and grow’.

“Support for innovative agri-tech proposals is provided through Future Wales and the proposals would contribute towards the circular economy having a productive and enterprising linkage with the adjacent waste water treatment works.

“Economic benefits weigh heavily in favour of the proposals with 150 new direct jobs being created in the clean and green economy at a time of mass redundancies in the local economy.

“Accordingly, whilst it is accepted that the site lies outside of settlement limits, it is considered that the principle of development is sound when considered against the development plan and other material considerations including national planning policy guidance.”

‘Request’

If the appeal is successful, the greenhouses would be used to capture both heat and carbon emissions from the Dwr Cymru facility.

The intention is to then use the waste products to grow significant quantities of low carbon fresh produce at the site.

Two similar developments by the company are already being constructed in East Anglia.

The planning agents added: “It has been demonstrated that the proposals can be technically delivered without any undue flood risk or biodiversity impacts and any landscape harm has been demonstrated as being of very limited and falling far short outweighing the benefits the proposals provide.

“It is therefore respectfully requested that full planning permission is granted, subject to conditions and a planning obligation.”

The appeal will be decided by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government at a later date.

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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
7 months ago

Economic benefits weigh heavily in favour of the proposals with 150 new direct jobs being created in the clean and green economy at a time of mass redundancies in the local economy. And one site producing 40% of the tomatoes we need in Wales. While the economies of scale may well favour this project and will maximise their profits, they ignore the diseconomies of scale created by moving this amount of tomatoes to a large part of the country – the transportation (of material, produce and commuting workers) and the water requirements to begin. Let alone the economic damage that… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

This proposed site might produce 40% of Wales’ needs. Consider that such a phrase might have been used to demonstrate capacity and equivalence. Much of that output could end up being shipped over much shorter distances than “to the rest of Wales” like over to Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester. All far more doable than shipping to South Wales. This serves to highlight the defects of the current Welsh transport infrastructure ( or non network !). A thriving agri and food sector meeting English market needs would be a sound proposition for an indy Wales or indeed any kind of… Read more »

Ian Perry
Ian Perry
7 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Is this replication of tte Dutch tomato houses? 15 years ago, they realised that they needed to reduce tte carbon footprint… These greenhouses need to be in use all year, and this means that they must be lit and heated in winter.

There are benefits over purchasing tomatoes from Spain – effectively flying water out of a very dry part of the world.

In reality, sustainability needs us to eat locally grown, seasonal produce. Tomatoes filling supermarket shelves in January isn’t viable/sustainable.

hdavies15
hdavies15
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Perry

I can buy into the “need to eat seasonal” but an awful lot of our fellow humans on this island will take a great deal of persuasion to adopt that style. As for the greenhouses there should be scope for using them for alternative winter crops as they still warm up well during the shorter daylight hours and might use heat pumps to redirect heat from underground to avoid frost damage. A bit of creative engineering would probably present a few potential solutions. Combine that with crop expertise and you could run it 365 days a year.

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