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Action threat to Shropshire chicken farm plan

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Shropshire Council could face a High Court battle if it fails to overturn plans to house 216,000 chickens.

Residents have raised thousands of pounds in a bid stop planning permission for four 110m x 24m sheds at Hopton Heath, near Clungunford.

They said Shropshire Council has one week to overturn the decision or they will take the matter to the High Court.

The plans at Heath Farm, which include feeding bins and a biomass boiler on a 6.15 acre site, were passed by Shropshire Council's south planning committee in December, on the understanding measures were taken to keep down traffic movements and environmental impact.

But Jonathan Roberts, Clungunford Parish Council chairman, said the plans were "steam-rollered through" and had residents in tears, with 64 objections lodged.

He said "a significant percentage" of the Clungunford parish's 300 residents had clubbed together to raise money to fight the plans in the courts.

"We are seeking a judicial review," he said.

"We're claiming there have been procedural flaws in the way this application has been dealt with, and requesting permission be quashed.

"We have issued a letter before action to Shropshire Council giving until June 18 to either cancel planning permission or face the music.

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"It is regrettable we have had to go to these lengths but we were left with no alternative."

He said residents had managed to raise enough not just to pay their own legal costs, but also the council's if the case is lost.

Mr Roberts said: "We bitterly regret finding ourselves in this position. Litigation is a comparatively rich man's man game.

"We've been very fortunate we've actually been able to do it – people have contributed sums they can ill-afford to lose."

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He said they would be contesting why plans went to committee before Natural England had considered the application – especially as the nearby waterways are home to the rare fresh water pearl mussel – among other things.

"This is an open block of land that has never been developed before and this will be bigger than Tesco in Shrewsbury," he said.

"It's very close to a residential area and quite close to a holiday complex as well.

"The developers have gone to some lengths to screen it, that's true, but you can't disguise an elephant in a room.

"Tourism is a big industry in these parts and is encouraged to be so.

"We find it odd that Shropshire Council would approve this when it is at odds with tourism."

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