King's Lynn XR holds demo at Wissington sugar factory
Activists from Lynn and West Norfolk Extinction Rebellion (XR) have held a demonstration at the British Sugar factory site at Wissington.
Seven members with banners and placards raised the issue of the climate and nature impacts that it claims the business has.
A statement from XR said: "We want to highlight that British Sugar is the highest carbon emitter in West Norfolk and the company's role in supporting the use of the banned neonicotinoid pesticide ’thiamethoxam’.
"We want to hold them to account for what they're doing, and ask what their plan is to repair the harm.
"Despite being banned across Europe, British Sugar has repeatedly and successfully sought permission from the government to use the insecticide thiamethoxam, a "neonicotinoid" (often referred to as “neonics”) which is known to harm bee populations.
"At a time when nature is under great pressure, particularly vital pollinators like bees, British Sugar is putting profits ahead of planet by using neonicotinoids.
"Also British Sugar’s Wissington site is the largest emitter of CO2, the greenhouse gas most responsible for global heating, in our borough of West Norfolk. The company is also the third largest emitter in the whole of Norfolk - topped only by a gas plant and an incinerator. Not only that, the most recent data (2019) shows their emissions are higher than they've been in the last 10 years.
"Greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut drastically to meet climate change targets but British Sugar is heading in the wrong direction.
"We have written to British Sugar three times to ask about their plans to address this but have not received a response.
"As local people, we feel we have a right to hold these massive companies in our area to account for their harmful practices."
British Sugar says that the environment is one of the three pillars on which it builds its business, along with economic and social responsibility.
Its website says: "We are focusing on playing our part in meeting our 2030 sustainability commitments, through reducing our end-to-end supply chain water and CO2 footprints by 30 per cent, ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable or compostable and providing access to objective scientific advice on sugar, the diet and health to over 25 million people around the world."
In 2021, British Sugar got permission to use a neonicotinoid on seed to fight the impact of Virus Yellows disease on the beet crop.
It said at the time: "“Supporting bee populations is extremely important to us and our growers and having the right controls to ensure this was key to the application. The treatment is applied to the seed before it is sown – it is not a spray."