Drugs firm claims expansion is crucial

ABBOTT Laboratories says it must expand at Queenborough to secure its future, and that of the local workforce.

The company spoke out after a public meeting in the town revealed opposition to proposals for the pharmaceuticals company to build to the east of Whiteway Road.

Residents said Abbott's had enough room to expand within its existing boundaries, but if further development went ahead, it should be as far away from houses as possible.

Abbott's bought the land - currently an unofficial wildlife haven - in 1961. Human resources manager Les Muggeridge said: "The company has to compete in a marketplace against the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies and needs to ensure that it has the ability to develop its business on the Queenborough site to meet customer demands for its premier healthcare ranges.

"The site needs the capability to develop the 45 acres on the Whiteway Road to ensure steady long-term growth, which provides secure employment."

Abbott's employs more than 800 staff at Queenborough, most of whom live on the Island.

Mr Muggeridge said: "Sheppey has seen a decline in its manufacturing base over the last decade and it is imperative that development plans which are sensitively formulated and implemented to bring new quality employment opportunities to the island are supported by everyone."

When the site is developed, the company will work with Swale Borough Council, English Nature and the Highways Agency.

"The company considers landscaping, breeding bird surveys, and nature conservation mitigation measures to be integral elements to its plan," said Mr Muggeridge.

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