Lukewarm response to plans for first carbon neutral brewery in Wales
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Plans to base one of the first carbon-neutral, alcohol-free breweries in the world in Monmouthshire have been met with a mixed reaction.
Craft brewer Drop Bear Beer Co, the first female-owned alcohol-free brewery in the UK, has lodged plans to build its brewery on a farm near Abergavenny.
Founders of the brewery, Joelle Drummond and Sarah McNena, want it to become the first alcohol-free brewery in Wales and the first carbon-neutral brewery in the world, according to a planning statement.
The plans involve changing the use of an agricultural building, with the brewery occupying the majority of the building as well as offices, a cold store and water treatment area.
However since being lodged with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, the plans have been met with a mixed reception, although developers say the response has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
One resident said the proposal would be “highly detrimental to the surrounding area”.
“It is not in keeping with the area and absolutely not within a national park,” they said.
“There are many empty industrial units nearby that could house these plans, not on this site causing many detrimental effects for many years to come. It is simply ludicrous.”
Another resident said they were concerned the development would result in more large vehicles using the stretch of the A40.
“It is already dangerous along this stretch due to the number of bends and the amount of traffic, particularly in the summer,” they said.
“The speed limit is 60mph which is excessive when trying to exit from any of the blind drives which lead on to this road.”
However others have supported the plans.
One resident said the development would be “a significant coup for the area of Abergavenny and Monmouthshire in promoting itself as the food capital of Wales”.
Others have said the plans will also bring a jobs boost for the area, with six full-time staff and the same number of part-time staff expected to be employed when fully operational.
The brewery will be “a significant local investment” and will be “not only significant for south-east Wales but for our country as a whole”, one comment in support of the proposal states.
A spokesman for Drop Bear Beer Co said the company “categorically deny that our application does not respect the context of the National Park”.
“Our proposal is not to build a new structure but to sympathetically convert an existing farm building, and we believe any concerns about the visual appearance of the proposed brewery are subjective,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman added: “We have talked to and listened to the local community about our plans, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
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