Local MP Steve Brine visited Alresford Salads on Monday 12th February to meet with senior staff from Bakkavor and discuss their current application with the Environment Agency.
The company, based in Bighton Lane near Alresford, have made an application to the EA which will vary a discharge permit under the 'Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 that does not involve substantial change'. The move follows changes to regulations impacting on the sector made by the EU and, in-turn, UK Government.
Steve Brine said; "I became aware a few weeks back of a petition created online which caused a lot of alarm to local people. The petition originally claimed, for example, that chlorine was used as part of the salad-washing treatment, and then transferred to the River Arle via discharge. The only difficulty with this was, chlorine has not been used on the site for a number of years"
"I fear we've another case here of people confusing information and fact online as one and the same. They are clearly not and I note the petition has now been revised.
"My visit to the Bakavor site today was to meet face to face with senior members of the team and to establish the facts. Bakkavor were very clear with me that nothing in their application is either illegal or taking a retrograde step regarding the health of the river and that their processes continue to be signed off as safe and well within the regulations laid down by Parliament.
"I understand there are concerns around some of the chemicals used at night to wash down the factory but I was pleased to hear from Bakkavor that they are continually working to reduce the environmental impact of this process and they remain well within limits as new products are brought into use. They also made the point to me, which I hadn't appreciated, that the chemicals we all use as householders to do tasks such as cleaning the bathroom, and ultimately get washed down the drain, have a far wider impact on local water quality.
"I have also been fully briefed by the Environment Agency on this process and they have been clear to me that nothing in this application breaks any rules or regulations set out by statute. I know they constantly monitor the river here and that is very good to know.
"Seems to me the EA are the experts here and they will judge the Bakkavor application according to the evidence and in line with all current statute. That must be the right approach.
"Bakkavor have made many changes to improve their discharge in recent years and have told me they will go on doing that but I do think they should at least explore a solution which would seemingly satisfy everyone and that's to treat all overnight wash discharge as foul sewer.
"I was pleased to visit today and speak directly with Bakkavor. We are, rightly, all concerned to protect the local environment we value so greatly but I do think it's important we deal in the facts."
Mr Brine is also speaking with Salmon and Trout Association and the WWF.
Pictured; Steve Brine joins Site Operations Manager at Alresford Salads, Steve Turner, and Tony Swindell from Bakkavor's Group HQ as they explain the current position
More information ...
You can access the planning application here
Read Bakkavor statement sent to Steve Brine MP (opens as a PDF)
Read EA statement sent to Steve Brine MP (opens as a PDF)
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