Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jan 2008
Source: East Anglian Daily Times (UK)
Copyright: 2008 Archant
Author: David Green


WORK is under way on what is set to become the biggest hemp factory in
the world.

The UKP3.6 million factory, at Halesworth Business Centre, will
eventually process 50,000 tonnes of hemp each year.

The crop will be grown in East Anglia's fields and the end product -
an environmentally friendly material - used in the automotive industry
and for insulation.

Work at Halesworth is being carried out by Hemcore which currently has
a small factory at Maldon in Essex processing 4,500 tonnes of hemp
annually. It will close when the new development is up and running.

Mike Duckett, managing director, said the new factory was to cater for
growing demand for hemp products.

A site in eastern England had been chosen because the region was
already the biggest in the UK for hemp growing.

However, more farmers were needed to contract to grow the crop. A
total of 5,000 acres were needed.

"We hope the new equipment will be commissioned in March and that we
can start processing in May," Mr Duckett said.

The project is being supported under the England Rural Development
Programme by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural
Affairs and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, in
the form of a UKP514,000 grant towards the cost of specialist processing
equipment. The factory will initially create 12 jobs.

The East of England Development Agency believes the factory will
contribute to the adoption of more sustainable construction methods,
while creating additional employment and benefiting farmers.

Hemp products are environmentally friendly because 99% of the plant is
actually used.

The crop is tolerant of both drought and heavy rain and does not
usually require pesticide spraying.

"Our new facility is great news for the environment and the region's
farmers, more and more of whom are already reaping the benefits of
growing hemp," Mr Duckett said.

Farmers interested in growing the crop to supply the factory should
contact him by telephoning 07770 325154.
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