October 8, 2008

Approval Granted for Polytunnels

By Abbott, Jez

One of the country's biggest softfruit growers has won over planners to use polytunnels on an area of outstanding natural beauty. EC Drummond & Son submitted a 10-year plan to rotate use of polytunnels for producing soft fruit in the Wye Valley, Herefordshire.

"Given the current controversy around polytunnels I was pleased and relieved," said partner Eric Drummond, based in Horn Green.

"Objections were primarily visual, but we overcame them with screening and breaking up the blocks of polytunnels."

He said he aims to rotate 54ha of polytunnels every three years or so across an area of 300ha of land. The firm produces three million punnets of strawberries a year.

He added that he had worked with the local authority to ensure his existing polytunnels met planning rules after Hereford made a voluntary code of practice mandatory last year. "Hereford [council] has always been very supportive and wanted to let the 'antis' have their say by running an application, which took a year to put together, through planning," he said.

Drummond said his business impact on the local economy was Pounds 26m. The company employs 17 full-time workers and 450 seasonal workers.

Copyright Haymarket Business Publications Ltd. Sep 4, 2008

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