Hemp firm vows to relocate to Brecks

The head of the UK's largest hemp processing firm yesterday vowed to continue its Norfolk relocation ambitions, despite a planning setback.

The head of the UK's largest hemp processing firm yesterday vowed to continue its Norfolk relocation ambitions, despite a planning setback.

Proposals by Essex-based Hemcore Ltd to build a £3.5m production plant and storage warehouses at Roudham, near Thetford, were turned down by Breckland councillors last month following major objections.

But managing director Mike Duckett yesterday said the company was not being put off by highway and countryside concerns and would continue to push for a factory in the local area.

Speaking at a briefing at Elveden, near Thetford, to encourage more farmers to join the hemp revolution, Mr Duckett said the firm would be appealing against Breckland's planning decision and was lining up two more processing locations on the Norfolk-Suffolk border.

"We are not entirely sure where it is going to be, but we will be able to say more next week. We want to be in very close proximity to central East Anglia," he said.

Hemcore wants to build a factory near Thetford and its favourable Brecks soils to process 7,000 acres of the crop a year, which can be used for housing insulation, horse bedding, car interior panels, and in cooking.

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Plans for the processing plant at Roudham were rejected by district councillors last month because of the feared impact of increased lorry movements on a rural road and a large- scale commercial development in an area of countryside.

But Chris Knock, director of Agricultural Development Eastern Region (ADER), said: "Hemp is a big bulk crop, which is why it is used for insulation, so haulage costs are a limiting factor. Having the biggest hemp processing plant in Europe on their doorstep can only be a good thing for Norfolk farmers."