Campaigners concerned over increase in intensive chicken farms
Groups of campaigners against chicken farm planning applications met to share their experiences and possibly help each other.
At the meeting held at the Dragon Hotel, Montgomery, on Friday, Montgomeryshire AM, Russell George, gave his views on the increase of planning applications for Intesive Poultry Units (IPUs) in the county.
The group was made up of people against applications for broiler chicken farms at Frochas, near Welshpool, Groes y Garreg, Berriew, Llangadfan and an egg production farm at Tan-yr-Wtra, near New Mills.
The campaigners said they are frustrated on a number of issues and feel that planning applications are taken at face value with not enough scrutiny by planning officers.
Berriew chicken farm protestor Darrell Shepherd, who organised the meeting, said: “One of the purposes to tonight is to try and get an idea for our approach to the planning committee and anything we could and should be doing now to help us get ready.
“By view of the update on the Berriew planning application – we’re just waiting to go to committee now – I feel we should be doing more but there’s not much to do.
“These are not farms but factories.
“If I wanted to put a factory exactly the same size causing the same pollution and 1,400 lorry movements a year it would be laughed out of planning.
“But fill it with chickens and you can do what you want.”
Russell George AM, said: “From my perspective I started having people contact me about IPUs about two to two-and-a-half years ago.
“They were not so well known and I did an investigation on behalf of constituents and I could see a steady increase if you looked at a map of Wales they were all pinpointed in Powys.
“I assumed it was because we are a rural area and you expected these sorts of applications in Powys or Ceredigion.
“But I was surprised about the amount of applications.
“I raised this with (Welsh Government) Ministers. Eventually I received a letter saying more or less they agreed with my concerns and the chief planning officer was going to write to planning leads and ask them take into account the cumulative effect of these applications.
“Previously they were looked at individually on their own merits.
“The main problem is that legislation has been slow to catch up with this.”
Mr George added: “I’m not against farm diversification – I’m supportive but I think there needs to be balance.”
Jill Kibble from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales Montgomeryshire, said: “Different material considerations have different weighting in planning.
“The only thing to date that any poultry shed anywhere on Powys has been turned down on is highways issues, there’s been three rejections.
“Ecology seem to come lower down – you almost seem to have four or five things together to actually make the weight for an argument.
“This letter from chief planning officer letter must be considered cumulatively on landscape, environment on residential, visual amenity – the issue is are they following it?”
From April 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018, there had been 108 of this type of planning application in Powys.
In total 105 had been passed and three refused.