Oswestry chicken farm expansion set for refusal

Plans to expand an intensive chicken farm near Oswestry are set to be rejected.

Plans to increase the size of the farm are being recommended for refusal by planning officers
Plans to increase the size of the farm are being recommended for refusal by planning officers

The proposals for Morton Ley Farm which rears 7.6 cycles of 180,000 chickens a year for human consumption, would accommodate an extra 90,000 birds per cycle.

Shropshire Council’s northern planning committee will decide the application next week, and officers say permission should be refused because not enough information has been provided to address concerns over odour, noise, ecology, drainage and transport.

There are currently four chicken sheds on the site housing 45,000 birds each – the first two approved in 2012 and the later two in 2016.

The applicants, Morton Growers Ltd, owned by Julian and Heather Edwards, now want to increase this again by adding another two sheds, bringing the total number of broilers reared in each cycle to 270,000.

A report to the committee says birds are brought onto the farm as day-old chicks and stay for 42 days.

Oswestry Rural Parish Council has supported the application but there was one objection from a member of the public.

The committee report, by planning officer Philip Mullineux, acknowledges that the proposals would bring economic benefits and “would help to sustain the long-term viability of the rural business”.

But it says the applicant has not demonstrated “that the proposed development will not have significant adverse effects on biodiversity”, and the council’s drainage consultant has also advised refusal of the application because the site is “a functional floodplain”.

'Significant concerns'

Mr Mullineux says the council’s landscape consultant has “a number of significant concerns,” including the fact the applicant’s landscape and visual impact assessment contains “a number of factual errors” and “has been prepared using guidance which is almost 20 years out of date”.

The report says: “The findings are considered insufficient to support making an informed planning decision.”

Criticism is also made of the applicant’s environmental statement, which the report says does not meet the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations.

The report continues: “The proposed development has the potential to have significant adverse effects on the environment.

“Satisfactory assessments of potential direct and indirect impacts from odour, noise, manure management, ammonia, landscape and visual impact and transport have not been included in the environmental statement.

“The environmental statement does not meet the requirements of the EIA regulations and is deficient.

“The local planning authority is therefore unable to assess what the full impact of the development would be on the environment, and therefore whether the proposal can be supported in relation to (planning policy).”

The report acknowledges that the applicant has a permit from the Environment Agency, but says this “does not obviate the need for an appropriate level of assessment to be undertaken as part of the EIA process, as required by the EIA regulations”.

It concludes: “The proposal would provide economic benefits, including from the investment in the expansion of the existing business and the additional and sustained labour requirements which would result from the construction and operation of the development.

“Nevertheless it is not considered that these benefits would be sufficient to justify a grant of planning permission in view of the deficiencies of the current application.”

The application will be decided by the northern planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday, June 8.

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