The UK’s only commercial hemp processing company is set to expand its operations with the construction of a £3.6m processing facility.

Hemcore’s  new processing plant near Halesworth, Suffolk will process 50,000 tonnes of hemp straw each year.

The firm hopes the facility, which is being built with help from a England Rural Development Programme  grant, will allow them to meet fast-growing demand for hemp products, which are used in construction, car manufacture and clothing.

Installation of the new site will begin in January, with commissioning set to begin in May.

Once the plant is open, Hemcore’s exisiting processing facilty in Maldon, which processes 4,500 tonnes of hemp straw annually, will be closed.

The firm hopes the new plant will be in operation by the end of 2008 with production increasing over a four year period until full capacity is reached.

Mike Duckett, Hemcore managing director, said the site of the new facility will take advantage of the current location of hemp growers.

The east of England is an area where the growing base is set to expand rapidly as demand increases, he added.

Hemp plant