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Neighbours’ fury at Powys chicken farm nod

Mid Wales | News | Published:

BUILDING  a 90,000 broiler chicken farm will be the “worst thing to happen to the valley since glaciation and the Norman Conquest” according to an unhappy neighbour.

At the last planning committee meeting Wernhalog Farm, Llanfaredd near Builth Wells, was given permission to build two units that will house 45,000 broiler chickens each.

Applications for more than 40,000 birds need an environmental permit from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and it was confirmed that the farm already has one.

Fourth generation farmer, Sian Davies, said that she was hoping to return to run the farm and raise a family in the area.

And that the broiler unit would help her do this once she had finished her studies at Aberystwyth University.

Miss Davies said: “Eating habits have changed with a six per-cent decrease in lamb and red-meat is also in significant decline because of continued bad press and health concerns.

“For our business to be sustainable we have to serve what the consumer wants.

“Ninety-five per cent of the population eats chicken and it’s likely that it’s eaten twice a week.

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“With broiler chicken meat accounting for 85 per cent of the meat produced in the UK.

“The country is only 65 per cent self-sufficient so an open market is waiting.”

She added that the Farm employs three people full time, five part-time and supports 40 local businesses.

Several protestors spoke against the scheme including Nigelle De Baskerville who lived nearby. She said: “This will be the worst thing that will have happened to the valley since the last glacial period, far worse than the Norman conquest,” said Ms De Baskerville

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Kate Wilson, who lives at  Hope Chapel, Llanfared, said: “I am the nearest receptor.

“I fully understand the need to find alternative sources of income due to the uncertainty surrounding the single farm payment system.

“The boundary of the proposed site to my garden is 25m. It is just too close.

“And the amount of space between my property and muck spreading is zero. The economic well being of the applicant is taken in to account.

“I also ask that equal weight is given to the community, to not have their houses degraded.

“We are now near eight million chickens in Powys.

“The cumulative effect I think are real and I wonder when we are going to take some backstop and give weight to other considerations?”

Cllr Les George (Conservative, Caersws) said : “Intensive farming is moving forward because in the main the public are demanding cheap food and farmers are being put under extreme pressure to produce.

“Farming has to be situated somewhere in the countryside and it’s unfortunate for some who live in its vicinity.

Cllr David Selby (Liberal Democrat – Newtown Central) said: “I recognise what Les is saying. But we have to be looking at each application on its merits

“It’s a factory building which is producing chicken. When do we say that a building like this is too close to residential dwellings?”

The family does not only farm Wernhalog but are also tenants on the Glenusk estate in Crickhowell.

There they have a 1,200 acre arable enterprise and buy chicken manure to use there.

Once the broiler units are up and running they will be able to use the manure from Werhalog on their Glanusk land.

Cllr Elwyn Vaughan asked what percentage of muck would be taken down to near Crickhowell.

He was told that it would be 80 per cent he recommended the application if that condition would be a stipulation on the permission.

Cllr E Michael Jones, (Independent – Old Radnor), said: ” We have to listen to experts.

“If we don’t listen to the officers the applicant could go to appeal.”

The application was passed and the field closest to Old Chapel was taken out of the manure management plan.

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