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Waste water and the Secretary of State

On 31/10/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

£3.5 million has been invested by Shepherd Neame in a new Waste Water Recovery Plant in Faversham. The site, a former Tesco distribution base was opened yesterday by the Rt. Hon Owen Paterson MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Andy Tighe and I were privileged to be present.

I must admit that on many of my brewery visits the problems of effluent, potential fines from water boards and how to the deal with the problem have surfaced many times. Many years ago Shepherd Neame helped fund the Faversham waste recovery plant, but they now felt that the pressure on the plant was too great and they needed their own. One real advantage of the plant is the opportunity for water re-use within the brewery and the reduction in the amount of water required for brewing which is drawn from their own artesian well, deep beneath the brewery.

I met Owen Paterson in Cologne when he launched the UK food and drink export strategy and clearly increasing exports are high on his agenda. His second priority is sustainability and improving the environment. He spoke knowledgably about the environmental benefits of using UK grown barley and hops. He was impressed about the use in Faversham of an anaerobic digester to help reduce the 15 million tons of waste thrown away each year.

After a tour of the bottling plant (during which the Secretary of State had to take a call from Number 10 - For those of you who have bottling plants, not the easiest place to find a quiet spot!); a quick look at the brewery and then a final discussion with Jonathan, Tom Falcon, Andy and myself.

We raised as you would expect a number of issues. We gave him our ‘Cheers’ booklet on the effect of the Budget and made the case for a further freeze. We talked about PRNs (Packaging Recovery Notes) and the dramatic interest in the cost of recycling glass for the industry. We asked him to help move forward proposals – to address this and particularly the issue of company obligations being too high due to the current overestimate of the total glass market. I will write to him about this and other issues.

We of course talked about exports, the TTIP negotiations between the EU and USA, the proposals by the Scottish Government on deposits and returns and how we were very opposed to the scheme and any idea that this might be extended in England. We discussed business rates and in particular rural rate relief and how DEFRA can help rural pubs.

Beer is classed as a food and is therefore the responsibility of DEFRA. It is always good to have the opportunity to sit down with the Cabinet Minister responsible for your sector and in Owen Paterson I think we have a Secretary of State who is listening and will take further action to help.


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