The proposed 1bn-litre facility in Aston Clinton, near Aylesbury, would create 680 jobs, the company says. However, locals argue the transport network in the area will not be able to cope.
A planning application was expected before Christmas but has still not been received by Aylesbury Vale District Council, despite discussions with the authority about the £150m proposal and public consultation.
Clear idea of impact
But this week an Arla spokeswoman confirmed the company was still aiming to start production at Aston Clinton in 2012. She added: “We’ve not confirmed when the planning application will be going in. Following residents' concerns we’re reviewing our master plan.”
She would not comment on whether the revised plan would be a scaled-down version of the original proposal for the 70-acre site.
Local Conservative MP David Lidlington has met with Arla in recent weeks. He said: “The company is making further changes to its proposals in response to local comment and intends to submit a formal planning application to Aylesbury Vale District Council in a few weeks’ time.
“I’ve told them that when they have settled on their final plan and submitted it, I will want to visit the site to get a clear idea of what the visual and noise impact the new development would have on the local area.”
'Ill thought out' application
The application has generated widespread local opposition, with Tory council cabinet member Carole Paternoster among the objectors.
She said: “I’m opposed to it because of the transport implications. We don’t have the infrastructure to cope with that size of operation.
“But everything is on hold while we’re waiting for the planning application. We don’t know what it will have in it yet so people can’t finalise their objections. We were expecting the application in December but don’t expect to see it now until after the May elections.”
Campaigner Nigel Hayward is standing as an independent in the election on an anti-Arla ticket. Simon Icke, another objector, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the local government ombudsman had already received complaints about the “crazy, ill thought out” application. Y
Icke said there was the possibility that “local government procedures may have been compromised during discussions between Arla representatives about changing this green field area into an industrial landscape”.
Icke added: “They never expected there was going to be such hostility and anger from local people. This is going to create 1,000 HGV movements a day and yet the site is nowhere near the motorway network.”