Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Parish Council

News from Parish Council Meeting on 4th March 2014

Vattenfall - visit to Lutterworth Wind Farm

This trip is arranged for 17th May 2014. The coach will depart from Nocton Village Hall at 10 am and arrive back from Lutterworth at 5 pm. If you wish to attend, please contact the Parish Council clerk who can add your name to the list.

Winchester Growers Ltd

Dr Gordon Flint attended the meeting to give some background information on the planning application for poly tunnels on Nocton Fen.

Winchester Growers Ltd bought the business from Paul and Anne Clarke who were trading as Winchester Bulb Growers Ltd. The Clarkes then went on to purchase the Nocton Estate in Lincolnshire in 1995 to continue developing their business of growing bulbs.

Nocton Estate was eventually sold by Paul and Anne Clarke, with the glasshouses and railhead facility being purchased by Munk Agricultural Contractors Ltd (MAC). Since January 2012, Winchester Growers Ltd have negotiated a long lease on the purpose-built facilities at Nocton and are now in the process of relocating their Pinchbeck operation to this location.

Winchester Growers Ltd currently have operations in Pinchbeck (Spalding), Penzance (Cornwall) and overseas in Portugal. Dr Gordon Flint advised he was Managing Director of Winchester Growers Ltd for some 17 years, and is now the Technical Director.

The business is involved in growing seasonal flowers, daffodil bulbs and other bulbs. Turnover is in the region of £50 million. In West Cornwall alone, the company grows 300 million stems on 3,000 acres with the main season between January and April. Many of the flowers are supplied to the main UK supermarkets, but there is also a good export to German supermarkets too.

Tulips are grown hydroponically to produce cut flowers - some 55 million stems from Pinchbeck and Nocton alone. Gladioli (12 million), Sunflowers (2 million) and tulips/lilies (12 million) are also field grown.

A modern wood-chip burner has been installed at Nocton to heat the current glasshouses and there will be further investment in a new glasshouse with computer-operated robotic benches for growing tulips. There is also the current application to construct poly tunnels on Nocton Fen, with perhaps a second phase glasshouse on Nocton Fen adjacent to the anaerobic digester, so that the surplus heat can be utilised.

As Nocton Fen is in the ownership of Beeswax Farming, there is an 'in-principle' agreement, yet nothing has been signed formally. The arrangements formed with Beeswax Farming will be a mutually beneficial arrangement for both companies though.

The poly tunnels on Nocton Fen will have a minimal impact on wildlife. These tunnels are not fully enclosed, with the lower part open and raised off the land. These will not be heated. The aim is to raise lilies for cut flowers between February and July, with the poly tunnel being rolled up in September, leaving just the frame in place.

An open invite was offered by Dr Flint to view the glasshouse/packing facilities at Nocton. This is available to anyone - not just Parish Councillors. The Parish Council clerk will be arranging a suitable date shortly and a further announcement will follow.

Finally, MAC Ltd and Winchester Growers Ltd are in close consultation with Lincolnshire Highways about improved signage at the entrance to the Old Sleaford Road. This is to reduce/eliminate the heavy goods vehicles who get lost and end up in either Dunston or Nocton villages and having to turn around with some difficulty.

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