Shropshire Star

Manure smell concern sees Shropshire chicken farm plan quashed in court

Controversial plans for a poultry farm near Bridgnorth have been unanimously quashed by three of the country’s senior judges.

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More than 1.5 million chickens would be reared at the farm under plans

The Court of Appeal in London has ruled that the pre-planning consent assessment of the smell and dust impact on local residents caused by disposal of thousands of tonnes of chicken manure on nearby fields was not properly considered by Shropshire Council when it approved the plans.

Now the scheme, which is for the creation of four poultry buildings and associated development at Footbridge Farm, Tasley, which is owned by Matthew Bower, must go back for re-consideration by the council.

Over the course of a year it is estimated more than 1.5 million broiler chickens would be reared there under the plans, while 2,322 tonnes of manure would be spread on farmland close to residential areas on the west side of Bridgnorth.

Ms Tricia Squire, whose home is just 300 metres from one of the fields earmarked for manure spreading, took the matter to the High Court last year seeking judicial review of the council’s September 2017 grant of consent for the scheme.

However, in July last year Deputy Judge Rhodri Lewis QC dismissed her challenge.

Now the Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, with two other of the country’s top judges, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Lindblom, have agreed that the planning consent should be quashed and the matters re-considered.

In the main judgment of the court, running to more than 12,000 words, Lord Justice Lindblom summarised Ms Squire’s challenge saying: “Did a local planning authority, when granting planning permission for an intensive poultry-rearing facility, fail to consider as it should the likely effects of odour and dust arising from the disposal of manure? That is the basic question in this appeal.”

And after analysis of environmental law and the arguments of lawyers for Ms Squire, Mr Bower and the council he ruled that the impact of the dust and smell had not been adequately taken into account.

He said that a “manure management” plan that had been drawn up would “be a mechanism to control pollution arising from spreading manure on Mr Bower’s own land.”

However, he continued: “It was not going to do so for land owned by third parties.”

It was argued by counsel for Ms Squire that comments made on the “manure management” provisions by the Public Protection Officer had not represented an adequate assessment of the situation.