23 January 2001
Farmers slam beet-factory closures

By Robert Harris

BRITISH SUGARS decision to axe three of its nine beet processing factories has been condemned by growers as deplorable.

BS will close its Bardney, Lincolnshire and Ipswich factories after the current campaign. Kidderminster will be axed after the 2001/02 harvest.

The company said the decision followed an 18-month review and would keep the British beet industry ahead of European competition.

Karl Carter, BS agriculture and operations director, said investment at other factories would maintain processing capacity.

“We shall continue to produce comfortably in excess of our EU quota with an average crop being processed in around 150 days.”

An extra 9 million will be spent upgrading Allscot, Shropshire factory, which will take all the beet from the West Midlands once Kidderminster closes.

A further 12m will be spent in factories in eastern England.

Factory areas will be redrawn, but the closures will inevitably leave some sugar-beet growers facing longer hauls, said a spokesman.

Transport allowances will be topped up to allow for extra haulage costs in the first year, but payments will be scaled back to zero by year seven.

Farmers leaders said the decision to shut the factories was “deplorable” and growers would eventually face higher transport charges.

Matt Twidale, chairman of National Farmers Union sugar beet committee, said: “We deplore the closure of factories.”

He added: “These ones have been popular with growers, and have worked well. It is a great shame.”