Controversial chicken farm housing 210,000 birds set for go-ahead

A long-running planning battle over permission for a major chicken farm looks set to be settled with the application expected to be approved next week.

The application will be decided at a meeting next week
The application will be decided at a meeting next week

Shropshire Council’s planning officers are recommending proposals for a 210,000-chicken farm at Footbridge Farm, Tasley, Bridgnorth, are given the go-ahead.

The application has been the subject of a protracted planning battle, with the plans first approved in 2017 but then challenged in the High Court.

The challenge was dismissed in 2018 but on appeal the Court of Appeal quashed the planning permission the following year.

A fresh proposal will now go before Shropshire Council’s Southern Planning Committee on Tuesday, where committee members will decide whether or not to back the recommendation.

A campaign group has battled the proposals on environmental grounds and over concerns of the potential smell from manure generated by the chickens.

A report from Shropshire Council case officer Kelvin Hall, says that the new proposal has made two amendments to address concerns – one that manure is taken off-site and not spread on fields, along with the use of ‘air scrubbers’ in an attempt to reduce the smell from the site.

The report states: “Two significant amendments have been made to the application from that considered in 2017.

“The first is that it is no longer proposed that the manure arising from the operation is spread on farmland. Instead, it is now proposed that the manure arising would be transported to an anaerobic digester plant or other licensed waste disposal facility.

“The second modification is that it is now proposed that air scrubbers would be installed on the poultry buildings. These would significantly reduce emissions of ammonia from the proposed operation.”

There would be four poultry rearing buildings on the site south of Bridgnorth by-pass and opposite the existing livestock market, each housing up to 52,500 birds.

Members of Tasley Parish Council, Bridgnorth Town Council and Shropshire Wildlife Trust have objected to the proposal, although neither the Environment Agency nor Natural England are against the plans. Shropshire Council said there had also been 260 objections from members of the public, along with 38 expressions of support. In a statement issued by Tasley Action Group, Tasley parish councillor Nicky Squire said: “Residents have been very concerned about the potential impact of this proposal on the local environment since the plans were first submitted in spring 2017.

“It was approved by Shropshire Council in August 2017 but we took the council to court and the Court of Appeal decided that the council hadn’t properly assessed the full impact of the proposal and cancelled the initial decision to grant permission. The applicant responded to the appeal court’s decision by cancelling plans to spread the chicken manure on local fields.

“Much later they added a proposal to install air scrubbers to reduce the impact of air pollution from the operation on ammonia-sensitive local woodlands.

“There’s still no guarantee that treating the air used for ventilation of the sheds will eliminate the risk of smells affecting local residents. It simply shouldn’t be built in a location like this.”

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