SIR: Although the job losses due to the closure of Bakkavor’s Alresford Salads are significant and worrying, there are two sound reasons why (most) residents of and visitors to Alresford should be relieved that the business in Bighton Lane, immediately beside Alresford Pond, is going this autumn. Both involve pollution of the environment.

Firstly, a business downturn is reported as the reason for the closure and Bakkavor has denied any links to environmental issues. Concerns have, though, been repeatedly raised by scientists about chemicals being washed into the Arle at the salad factory. The latest evidence was formally reported to the Environment Agency, which has now confirmed discharges are threatening the fragile ecosystem.

The closure should mean improved water quality and also reduced water abstraction from the chalk stream. Most of us are not scientists but we would all do well not to dismiss or minimise damage to the natural world when the food chain is broken by chemicals. A significant decline in wildlife along the Arle has been reported over many years now.

Improvements will likely be gradual rather than rapid as there are also concerns about the build-up of toxins in sediment over many years, including in Alresford Pond. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest but Natural England says its status is ‘unfavourable - declining’. The River Itchen - the Arle is a tributary - is designated a Special Area for Conservation, the highest environmental protection afforded.

Secondly, the closure also means cessation of the multi-axle, refrigerated lorry traffic, daily bringing salad goods - much imported from abroad - through the town for washing. Many HGVs go through the town but traffic counts over the years found these huge refrigerated lorries were by far the largest single contributor. The photograph, taken beside the medieval bridge in Alresford, speaks for itself.

The town, its roads, its medieval bridge and weir were always unsuited to this business. But we must also look ahead to what might become of this site.

Jan Field,


The Alresford Society,

Arlebury Park Mews,