Nestlé has opened a £35m water bottling plant in Buxton as part of its pledge to invest £500m in the UK over three years.

The plant – on the edge of the historic Derbyshire spa town – replaces an existing factory which traces its roots back 101 years.

But the new site, which safeguards approximately 100 jobs, is designed to boost Nestle’s capacity to bottle and sell mineral water in the UK.

The plant bottles both Buxton branded and Nestlé Pure Life water for sale across the UK.

But the design of the new plant is such that it will allow Nestlé to take advantage of the resurgence in bottled water.

Individual consumption of bottled water in the UK has risen from an average of 30 litres a year in 2008 to 41 litres a year in 2012, but remains far behind the average 100 litres a year drunk in the US or 180 litres in Italy.

The site brings together bottling and warehousing for the first time in Buxton, reducing costs and increasing production capacity.

The new factory is said by Nestle to be one of the most efficient bottling facilities in Europe, reducing packaging by around 25pc and energy consumption by 20pc compared to the existing factory, which has now closed.

Nestle chief executive Paul Bulcke, who opened the site, said innovation is at the heart of what the Swiss conglomerate does best as he welcomed the official opening.

“The Buxton factory is an excellent example of how we continue to invest in Europe despite tough economic conditions,” he continued.

The Buxton plant is one of a number of UK sites earmarked for investment.

As part of the £500m pledge, made by the company in 2012, Nestlé is spending £310m at Tutbury in Derbyshire to continue to modernise its coffee manufacturing plant, creating 400 new jobs.

It is also spending £40m at its Nescafé site in Dalston, Cumbria, and £20m on its seasonal confectionery business in Halifax.

Prior to the £500m pledge, the conglomerate spent £200m upgrading its chocolate and confection factory in York.

Nestlé is one of the largest employers in the food industry in the UK, with more than 7,000 staff.

It’s UK business has annual sales of £2.5bn, around 10pc of which come from exports.

The relocated site involved the construction of a 3.5km pipeline from the old plant to allow the water to supply the new facility.

In addition, as the factory is located on the edge of the High Peak national park, it is clad in recycled stone and its roof is wavy to fit in with the contours of the landscape.

Campaigners against the Radlett Strategic Rail Freight Interchange are hoping to reach 10,000 signatures on a petition aimed at stopping Hertfordshire County Council selling the land to HelioSlough.

The terminal is important for the strategic develop of rail freight as it will be the only major rail freight interchange in the North and West quadrants around London and should enable a much higher proportion of freight to use rail.

The petition currently has some 8,400 signatures and action group STRIFE (Stop the Rail Freight Exchange) aims to trigger a council debate on the issue.

The government said it would back the £400m rail freight terminal at the former Radlett aerodrome near St Albans just before Christmas.

The decision by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government was been welcomed by industry organisations including the Freight Transport Association and the Rail Freight Group.

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Leaders of one of the UK’s most successful logistics firms have insisted that the country’s ports and rail freight need to be classed as one single entity.

GB Railfreight (GBRf) welcomed the Transport Select Committee’s ‘Access to Ports’ inquiry, which was launched towards the end of 2012.

The organisation started the investigation in order to assess how accessible the nation’s ports are and what improvements can be made.

GBRf operates 650 cargo trains each week, so it is well placed to offer advice on the situation and bosses feel rail freight and ports are both crucial to the UK’s future economic success.

Managing director of the firm John Smith urged policy makers to do all they can to improve rail links to important coastal towns and cities.

“It is crucial [ports] are readily accessible to bulk and multi-modal rail freight to allow them to work at maximum efficiency and be utilised to their full potential,” he remarked

The demand for port-centric warehouses is growing rapidly in the UK, it has been claimed. Leaders at Tilbury-based The Logistics Terminal (TLT) confirmed the company has seen a 100 per cent increase in throughput in the last year, as firms continue to ship their goods in smaller quantities.

An average of 160 containers pass through the logistics hub every week and TLT partner Richard Newbold believes this way of distributing cargo is better because it cuts down on “over-handling”. By storing items in Tilbury rather than a distribution centre in another part of Britain, businesses can reduce the amount of transportation required to get their goods to their final destination.

“Quite simply, our solution allows businesses to gain greater control over both supply-chain overheads and the timely delivery of their goods,” Mr Newbold explained.

In general terms, the UK’s ports have been relatively quiet in recent months. Government figures published in December indicated that overall port traffic was down by two per cent year-on-year in the 12 months to the end of the third quarter of 2012.