The NFU said the application was a vote of confidence for the sugar sector, after the last sugar beet factory in York was closed 10 years ago.
NFU Sugar board chairman Michael Sly said: “Farmers in the region were disappointed when the British Sugar factory closed in 2007, and it is encouraging that investors are considering a new, larger plant in the area.
‘A considerable vote of confidence’
“It would be the first sugar beet factory built in the UK for 90 years, and represents a considerable vote of confidence for the sector. The sugar beet industry makes an important contribution to the rural economy, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs across the country, and is a valuable rotation crop for arable farmers.”
The NFU’s comments came after Cayman Islands-based Al Khaleej International – subsidiary to Al Khaleej Sugar in Dubai – submitted an application to build a 65ha sugar beet factory in Allerton, North Yorkshire. The site would process between 24,000t and 36,000t of sugar beet daily during harvest season, Al Khaleej said. The plant would produce between 5,000t and 6,000t of refined sugar a day, it added.
According to an environmental impact assessment report: “The proposed development will regenerate the site, and provide employment at the plant for between 200 and 300 people,” Al Khaleej predicted. The facility would “involve a supply chain of about 3,500 British farmers in the sourcing of sugar beet from a large area of predominantly north east England”, it added.
‘Provide employment for between 200 and 300 people’
The proposed facility would include ancillary buildings and four silo containers. The silos would be 80m tall and 60m wide, the report said. The surrounding area would be developed into a car park, it added.
Khaleej International expected to learn whether its application was successful by June 19.
British Sugar, until the latest announcement the only processor of UK sugar beet, produces up to 1.4Mt of sugar a year, it said. Its network of 3,500 growers supplied about 8Mt of sugar beet annually.
Proposed north Yorkshire sugar beet factory
- 65ha development
- Up to 300 jobs
- Would process between 24,000t and 36,000t of sugar beet a day