A new £30 million hemp processing plant is set to be built near Market Harborough in the next 18 months.
The ambitious operation – which will create over 30 jobs - will be set up outside Theddingworth.
And it will be the biggest plant of its kind anywhere in the UK.
Jamie Bartley, the chief executive of Market Harborough-based Unyte Hemp, is the man behind the bold blueprint.
“We are all very excited about this.
“We hope to get this scheme up and running in the next 12-18 months,” said the experienced environmental services specialist.
“Hemp is in many ways an absolute super-crop – a magic bullet on so many levels.
“This is going to be great for the entire Market Harborough area and we cannot wait to get going.”
Based at the Innovation Centre on the town’s Airfield Business Park, Jamie said they will process about 25 tonnes of the cannabis-type plants a day.
“We will be able to produce that much on a single eight-hour shift.
“We have a 240-acre farm in Leicestershire licensed by the Home Office for industrial hemp cultivation in the UK,” he said.
“And altogether we’ve got about 1,700 acres of land licensed across the UK now.
“We have already got a four-acre site with a 10-megawatt power station near Theddingworth.
“Now we just have to raise all the money we need to go full steam ahead.”
Jamie masterminded a successful research initiative last year when he grew hemp in the countryside near Theddingworth.
Since launching Unyte Hemp in late 2018, he said they have been working relentlessly to hammer home the message that hemp is not the banned drug cannabis.
Hemp, which has been used all over the world for over 50,000 years, looks like cannabis but contains much lower levels of the psychoactive element.
“A lot of people do need to be educated about this.
“Hemp is the way to go – it’s as simple as that,” insisted Jamie.
“It is so flexible, so adaptable, that this crop has an incredible 25,000 uses.
“Hemp can be used to make products for our huge energy and construction industries as well as for things like house insulation.
“It’s excellent for providing bio fuel for lorries and public transport.
“And it is so eco-friendly, so green and clean, that it’s unbelievable.
“One acre of hemp absorbs 25 times the amount of harmful carbon dioxide from our atmosphere that one acre of rainforest absorbs.
“It sucks so much Co2 out of the air and it can be processed using a renewable energy-powered plant.
“It’s just a brilliant, wonder material.”
Jamie, who lives in Market Harborough, said hemp has been put to good use by people for tens of thousands of years.
“Hemp used to be grown a lot in the UK.
“King Henry VIII told all farmers to sow quarter of an acre of hemp for every 60 acres they owned.
“That’s because it was much stronger than cotton and grew faster – making it ideal for sails and ropes for warships in the Royal Navy as they went off to conquer the British Empire,” he said.
“So hemp really is a winner, it’s a critical material.
“And the more we can grow, cultivate and process the better for our environment, for our post-Covid-19 economy and for the future.
“We hope to create at least 30 jobs and aim to submit our planning application to Harborough District Council by the end of this year.
“Market Harborough’s a fantastic base for us because we are right in the middle of the country, we have first-class transport links and outstanding agricultural potential.
“So we will continue to pull out all the stops to generate the investment to get set up and it will be all systems go,” said Jamie.