Archive - Tuesday, 15 August 2006
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£100m agricultural centre begins
WORK has begun on a new agri-business centre that could bring 1,000 new jobs and £100million investment to North Petherton.
Cutting the turf at the new agri-business centre is Cllr John Swayne, Lyn Solomon (assistant herdsman for D & P Mead and Co), Derek Mead (D & P Mead and Co), Jack Buchanan (Robert Wiseman Dairies), Cllr Duncan McGinty (leader of the council) and Alan Gree
Dairy farmer Derek Mead, of D & P Mead and Co, who is behind the project, oversaw the turf cutting ceremony at the 60-acre site near Junction 24 on Wednesday (August 9).
It marked the beginning of a project that has been billed as a one-stop shop for farmers, which will include a 15-acre £5million farmers' market, regular livestock auctions, offices for auctioneers and surveyors, and accommodation for agricultural suppliers and retailers.
As part of the development, Robert Wiseman Dairies will construct a 20-acre £55million milk processing plant, supplying milk to the whole South West.
The farmers' market is expected to open in autumn 2007 and the Wiseman plant a few months later. Wiseman will move its distribution centre at Langdon Industrial Estate in Taunton to North Petherton and create an additional 300 jobs.
Jack Buchanan, Wiseman's property and transport director, said: "This is the very best area for milk fields that we can tap into and we have a lot of contracts with customers here.
"We are targeting to be in milk production by November 2007 but because we did not start when we hoped, due of the usual legalities, it will be a tall target. But that is still the aim."
Other companies are currently in negotiations with D & P Mead and Co to buy land on the site, and an announcement that a large South West based farming company will move there is expected in the next few weeks.
Derek Mead said: "We are speaking to a number of businesses and what we are trying to create is a one-stop by attracting all types of agricultural businesses.
"When farmers bring their livestock here they can do all their other business from commercial to buying a pair of Wellington boots."
Bridgwater was chosen over Wellington for the new site, largely because of the cooperation of Sedgemoor District Council's planning department.
Cllr John Swayne, chosen to oversee the project, said: "The development and sustainability of farming and agriculture in Sedgemoor is an essential part of the local economy."