> Easton Food Hub Development Divides Local Opinion - The Food Safety Company Easton Food Hub Development Divides Local Opinion - The Food Safety Company
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    Monday, 20 February 2017

    Easton Food Hub Development Divides Local Opinion

    The county of Norfolk is known to be one of the UK’s most productive areas when it comes to agriculture, providing approximately 5% of the UK’s total farm output. As such, it really comes as no surprise that investors and industry professionals are hoping to capitalise on that with the construction of a new ‘food hub’ industrial estate near the small village of Easton. Local residents, however, have different ideas.

    Img: Eastern Daily Press
    The Defra-backed government initiative aims to create a ‘Food enterprise Zone’ on the 19-hectare site, which would allow food businesses to build on the land without going through the typical planning process. It is hoped that this will bring further business and investment into the county by upping the area’s share of the food processing market. Norfolk may be responsible for 5% of our nation’s food output, but that fact that this figure drops to 2.4% for food processing employment is an indicator that improvements can be made in terms of promoting local business.

    “If we can encourage food processing and value-added activities incorporating the latest technologies from our agri-tech sector, the nearby Norwich Research Park and beyond, I am convinced we can improve Norfolk’s contribution to feeding the nation,” landowner Ian Alston states.

    Broadland District Council has filed a Local Development Order (LDO) and is awaiting the input of local residents. Unfortunately for both the council and landowner Ian Alston, they don’t exactly seem keen on the idea.

    Residents have voiced numerous concerns in relation to the proposed development, with their chief complaints being the blighting of countryside views and substantial rise in traffic on the quiet country lanes, which are not exactly built with heavy traffic in mind.

    Campaign group Residents Against Industrial Development (RAID) has also commented on the ‘food hub’ plan, as they believe the term to be misleading.

    A spokesman for RAID said, “They’ve tried to tell us it’s a ‘food hub’, which sounds OK, but when you look at the application, it’s 90pc industrial, food processing and manufacturing and so on, with up to 10pc retail.”

    Despite these objections, those involved in the development seem undeterred. One avid supporter of the plan, Anglia Farmers’ chief executive Clarke Willis, stated that, “The importance of the Norfolk Food Hub cannot be underestimated and comments of local villages who do not always see the bigger picture is normal in such a visionary development.

    “The hub presents a major opportunity for new inward investment into the major sector in our county – the food supply chain. In addition to creating long-term sustainable jobs, it also fulfils the ambition to link food, drink and agriculture to agri-tech and life science in which Norwich is a world leader, onto developing consumer education and a healthier population.”

    Mr Alston also appears eager to get under way, addressing residents’ concerns with the following:

    “There is no reason why Norfolk should not seek to promote food at the Easton location directly beside a major trunk road that is due to be upgraded in 2020.

    “Both the improvements to the A47 and the NDR will transform this area and its ability to cope with increased traffic. I have got a proven track record in keeping traffic out of villages, and I want to continue that with the food hub.”

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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