More than 55,000 sign poultry petition against farm near Market Drayton
More than 55,000 people have objected to plans to build a chicken farm housing more than 30,000 hens near Market Drayton.
The Betton and Norton (BAN) action group leading the fight against the proposals has said it is overwhelmed by the support, which has also seen more than 550 letters of objection from councils, wildlife trusts and environmental groups.
The majority of signatures against the proposals, that would see the development of a poultry building to house 32,000 free range laying hens in two 16,000 bird sections near the village of Betton, have been gathered via two online petitions created by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with about 4,000 more coming from residents living nearby the proposed farm site.
Julia Roberts, of the BAN action group, said although the direct impact would affect Shropshire people, tens of thousands more realise the implication such applications can have on rural and urban communities.
"These industrial farms are incredibly controversial and I think people realise that letting them go ahead in one area can clear the way for similar farms all over," she said.
"I think it's incredibly important this kind of support from people outside of Betton continues. It shows both the local community and people in general have had enough of these kind of developments going ahead without proper consideration.
"The Court of Appeal ruled that Shropshire Council had not properly addressed the impact of the Tasley farm and that is a serious concern."
Elisa Allen, PETA director, added: "The last thing Shropshire needs is a new factory farm.
"PETA urges Shropshire Council to listen to the will of the people – tens of thousands have voiced their opposition to this wretched and inhumane proposal – and withdraw permission for this chicken prison."
Both the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust have lodged concerns relating to the pollution the farm would cause.
In its objection to the planning application, Shropshire Wildlife Trust stated: "Given that background levels of nitrogen deposition are already in excess of the critical thresholds we feel that adding further will only exacerbate biodiversity loss and cumulatively have a ’significant effect'.
"The need to control ammonia emission from livestock units due to negative impacts of both human health and the environment has resulted in a number of technologies to reduce, manage and capture ammonia. It is not clear that any are being applied in this case."
CPRE stated: "We do not agree with the arbitrary decision not to require an environmental impact statement, taking into account the inadequate consideration in the applicant’s documentation and the weight of the evidence against the development.’’
Ian Pick Associates, planning consultant for the applicant Merlott Chitty Farms, declined to comment.