Pubdate: Tue, 26 Dec 2006
Source: Eastern Daily Press (Norwich, UK)
Copyright: 2006sArchant Regional
Author: Adam Gretton


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 UKP3.5m 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.

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.

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  "unacceptable" 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.