BS rejects claim for Wissington compensation

7 December 2001

BS rejects claim for Wissington compensation

ANGER over delays at British Sugars flagship Wissington sugar factory is growing, following the companys rejection of the NFUs claim for compensation.

"British Sugar has made us offer which is totally inadequate," says NFU sugar beet committee chairman Matt Twidale. "We are now piling on the pressure at the highest level and with ABF."

Frustration among growers is increasing by the day, says NFU local policy adviser Sandra Nichols. "For some smaller farmers the picture is becoming desperate. They already have delays in IACS payments. Now they cant get their beet away as planned. They are deeply concerned about cash flows."

A halt to processing last week caused by a faulty generator added to ongoing annoyance caused by the plants filtration problems.

BS describes the stoppage as a "blip", but admits the plant was down for several hours. It processed about 12,000t/day over the weekend – just 75% of potential.

The old Ipswich filters, which BS hopes will ease the filtration difficulties, were on site at the start of the week, but had not been installed. "Hopefully it wont be too long before they come on-line," said a spokesman. "They are being engineered into the process."

"Another concern is the weather," says Ms Nichols. "Growers are unsure whether to lift or leave their crops in the ground. They are concerned that with more beet still about it is entirely at their risk."

There is a growing feeling that BS should buy its beet now and share some of that risk, she says.

But Mr Twidale admits that is unrealistic. "We have to go for something tangible and make British Sugar realise it has to address the situation and make us a better offer."

When the factories at Bardney and Ipswich closed, the NFU was assured all remaining plants would be able to run flat out, he says. Kidderminster is due to close at the end of this season. "There is no way they can do that if they havent got things working properly."

&#8226 Lift beet and clamp it well rather than leaving it in the field, urges IACR Brooms Barn research centre in Suffolk.

If clamped well, beet only loses 0.18% adjusted tonnage/day in winter. &#42

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