Hemp production plan under threat

A scheme to create the largest hemp production plant in East Anglia could go up in smoke in the New Year after major traffic and countryside concerns.

A scheme to create the largest hemp production plant in East Anglia could go up in smoke in the New Year after major traffic and countryside concerns.

Plans to convert agricultural buildings at Roudham, near Thetford, into a £3.5m processing factory and storage warehouses have already prompted mass opposition from local councillors and residents.

The application for seven barns at Camp Farm is now being recommended for refusal next month because of its potential impact on the local rural road network and conflict with planning policies.

The plant, which will be run by Essex based Hemcore, aims to process and store 7,000 acres of hemp a year, which will be turned into housing insulation, interior car panels, fuel and horse bedding. The business would employ 14 people and would operate on a 24 hour basis for an initial 240 days of the year.


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But Breckland Council planning officers say that Roudham Road, the farm's main access route, is "not suitable" for an increase in lorry activity, which will be caused by the development.

In a report to councillors, Nick Moys principal planning officer, said the operation would double daily HGV movements on a road designated as a 'Quiet Lane' by Norfolk County Council and would have a "noticeable" effect on the rural character of the area.

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He added that the conver-sion of one barn into a hemp processing plant would comply with farm diversi-fication policies, however, the proposal for commercial storage and distribution at the six other Camp Farm buildings was not suitable for the rural area.

Parish councils at Roudham, Larling, Bridgham, Harling and Garboldisham and 140 letters from local residents have strongly objected to the plans because of "unaccep-table" increases in traffic, the scale of the development, and the effect of the quiet rural character of the area.

Mike Duckett, managing director of Hemcore, told the EDP last month that East Anglia's strong agricultural base was the perfect place for production of the environmentally friendly and multi use material.

"There has been a perception that with hemp it is always something to do with drugs, but that is changing rapidly. It is getting much more credibility as a profitable alternative break crop for farmers growing cereals and vegetables," he said.

A Breckland Council plan-ning committee will discuss the application on January 8.

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