Suffolk

Suffolk Copella juice factory gets green light for expansion

Copella factory in Suffolk Image copyright Google
Image caption A new building and storage tank have been approved at Konings' Copella factory

Controversial plans to expand a fruit juice factory have been given the go-ahead.

Konings, the owner of the Copella site in Suffolk, says the decision by Babergh district councillors will secure up to 90 jobs.

Nearby parish councils and nearly 200 residents had opposed expanding the site, which is in the Dedham Vale area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Opponents of the plans say they will now assess their options.

The proposals at the site between the villages of Boxford and Leavenheath include extending by 15m a building which will house a juice storage tank and processing plant. The plans also involve building a 68-space car park.

Konings told the meeting the increased capacity would allow it to store more juice, meaning it could smooth out fluctuations in the supply of apples - around a quarter of which come from Suffolk.

Five parish councils had raised objections to the plans, citing concerns over the building's appearance, increased traffic and the impact on the environment.

'Pickle the countryside'

But Babergh Council leader John Ward, who is also the Conservative ward councillor, backed the plans as he felt the concerns were "outweighed by the economic arguments".

"If they are not allowed to expand they will move their operation elsewhere," he said, citing the departure of other major employers such as Delphi and Philips Avent.

He denied that building in the AONB set a precedent, saying "excessive industrial development" would not be permitted.

"We realise that we can't pickle the countryside in aspic," he said. "There has to be suitable employment for those that live there."

Andrew Wade of Polstead Parish Council said he was "disappointed" at the decision but "all options remain open".

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