Plans to build a £50m pair of cutting-edge sustainable greenhouses and bring 150 new, long-term green jobs to Wrexham suffered a major set-back with the omission of the project from the published agenda for Wrexham Council Planning Committee.
The greenhouses, scheduled for construction in the spring, would capture both waste heat and carbon emissions from Dwr Cymru’s Five Fords Waste-Water Treatment Works and use them to grow up to 40% of the tomatoes consumed in Wales. The project would be the most technically advanced of its kind in Europe.
Low Carbon Farming, the developer behind the project to be built on agricultural land located directly between the Dwr Cymru facility and SecAnim Abattoir, has warned consistently that it’s a ‘time-limited’ opportunity for Wrexham. Planning permission must be achieved in September for the project to qualify for the necessary support funding from the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.
Following news this week that Tyson Foods is to close its Wrexham meat processing factory, Low Carbon Farming is already working with Unite Wales and Lantra, the training organisation, to advance plans to re-train and employ the 71 workers in a modern and low carbon agri-business.
Andy Allen, a Director at Low Carbon Farming, said:
“Having experienced such warmth and enthusiasm from the local community and a wide range of political representatives, we’re bitterly disappointed not to make the agenda for September’s Planning Committee.
“Our team has worked tirelessly since April to address all stakeholder feedback. The few remaining items for discussion could be covered as conditions of planning consent. Instead, I’m afraid the council’s planners have been uncommunicative and seemingly oblivious to the simple fact that this opportunity for green recovery infrastructure and employment in Wrexham will no longer be there next month.
“On the basis that we cannot be included on the agenda next week, we have requested that the Planning Committee meets for a second time in mid-September in order to take a decision on our project. This is a perfectly reasonable request, not least since the Committee will not be conducting site visits on the 18th as scheduled, on account of coronavirus restrictions.
“I’m a firm believer that all development proposals, our own included, must be scrutinised and shaped by local stakeholders. But I also know that Wrexham residents expect more ambition and proactivity from their council when presented with a golden opportunity to address local unemployment, air pollution and inward investment.”
Sarah Gould, project manager at Lantra, said:
“Clearly it is exceptionally rare to have an opportunity to re-train and transition an entire workforce into a single, sustainable development just a stone’s throw away. But we’re confident that the fundamental agri-food skill-set at the Tyson Foods factory can be shaped to meet the needs of the greenhouses. From an employment perspective, this proposal is an ideal fit for the region and aligns closely to the Wales Food and Drink Action Plan. We need all parties to remain agile and proactive so this opportunity is not lost”
Further project information can be viewed at https://www.5-fords.com/