* By Will Butler, West End Flower Farm, West End House, Froyle.

MY RECENT letter I sent to our MP. I thought it may be of interest to gain an idea of the challenges a local business may be facing with the application for the incinerator application at MRF on the A31.

Dear Mr Hinds,

I am currently involved with the No Wey Incinerator action group, and through this I am very aware of the objections we will be putting forward against the application.

I am really writing with my business hat on. We live at, and run, West End Flower Farm. Our site will look straight into the proposed site and the plume will travel directly above our farm and house on the prevailing wind. This worries me greatly in relation to our business going forward.

We not only grow flowers to organic principles for the wholesale market, we also run a farm shop and restaurant. As you can imagine, the ongoing pandemic and lockdown has caused significant damage to our business.

We have worked through this and are now able to open. We have had to furlough seven staff and make three part-time contractors redundant.

We are slowly opening things back up and hope to reintroduce all our staff back to work at the end of this month.

However, we are now faced with the prospect of the incinerator being built on our doorstep. My family has farmed here for more than 100 years and have been looking after the land and conserving the wildlife throughout this period.

We have gained a significant following within the local community and are always striving to build our business. The environment – and how we are able to increase natural diversity and positive human interaction with this – is at the forefront of our business principles and how we are looking to grow our business.

In the past 12 months (excluding lockdown) we have increased our staff numbers to 13 and have significant plans going forward – financed in part by the Covid-19 bounce back loan – to increase to a staff team of 20 to 25 (full and part-time).

However, we have come to a position where we are looking to stall investment and employment opportunities. As you can imagine, having a industrial-scale building pushing carbon and other harmful gases into our local environment, doesn’t work with our USP.

I understand businesses have to adapt and change to suit the market. I am actually energised by the opportunities that may come around in the post-Covid world.

However, I simply cannot accept that a beautiful part of our countryside that my family has called home for four generations will be ruined forever by an incinerator that has been put in place for a French multinational company to increase profits for their shareholders.

I am in no way a NIIMBY. I very much support considered and responsible development, both commercial and residential.

The Linden Homes development in Frolye has had a huge benefit to our business and the local community. As I think you are aware, Froyle as a village has become so expensive young families are unable to buy or rent houses here.

Increased building allows prices to decrease and rejuvenates rural communities. It also enables people like myself to introduce others moving to the area to the beautiful countryside I know and love so much.

What I cannot accept is development that benefits no-one in the local community. The facility will take only commercial waste, not our local waste, to no benefit to the local community.

Veolia will argue they provide “green electricity” for the local community. This simply is not true. Burning waste is very inefficient way to produce energy.

We all know the blueprint is to increase the UK’s provision of renewable energy – something that I believe very strongly in.

They will reduce employment from the current MRF, not to mention businesses like ours that will probably have to close because of it. Maybe profit before service is not the right way to handle a service like this.

Interestingly, as a commercial client of Veolias, they are currently not recycling any commercial waste as they have furloughed their driving team. All our glass, food waste and recyclable items are going to landfill.

They would give us only a two-week payment holiday when we were forced to shut down our business in lockdown.

However, they are still furloughing their staff at government and the environment’s expense. Maybe they could use some of the £220 million earmarked for this project to pay their staff and improve recycling.

I know you don’t have specific influence in this decision but as a constituent of yours I feel it is important to highlight our specific issues going forward.

I would love to know what EHDC, HCC and our local MP’s advice is to true local businesses with this horrible situation looming over our heads.