Shropshire Star

Plans to double size of chicken farm to almost 500,000 birds is deferred

Plans to double the size of a chicken farm so it can house nearly half a million birds have been deferred over odour concerns.

Chicken farm bosses want to have nearly 500,000 birds

It has already been four years since the application for four new chicken sheds at Hollins Lane poultry unit in Woodseaves, near Market Drayton, were lodged with Shropshire Council.

Planning officers had recommended refusal of the scheme after receiving a report from a leading odour consultant, commissioned by a group of nearby residents, which raised concerns that a large number of complaints about the site had not been taken into consideration.

However the authority’s northern planning committee held back from rejecting the plans and instead voted to defer a decision to a future meeting.

The decision was made minutes after a separate application for a 200,000-bird chicken farm near Nesscliffe was also deferred on similar grounds, having been under consideration for six years.

Introducing the Market Drayton application, planning officer Kelvin Hall said there were already four poultry rearing sheds on the site, in the form of two linked buildings, as a result of planning permission granted in 2015. Each shed houses 58,000 birds – a total of 232,000.

If granted, the latest plans would see another four sheds put up next to the existing ones, containing the same number of birds, Mr Hall said.

A statement was read to the committee from Sutton upon Tern Parish Council, reaffirming its objection to the plans on the basis that the additional units would have “an overwhelming impact on the area”.

The parish council said in addition to the odour concerns, there was also “circumstancial evidence” from residents that the current poultry operation was impacting the section of the Shropshire Union Canal which runs to the east of the site, and causing regular flooding on the towpath.

Councillor Rob Gittins, who represents the Cheswardine division, also opposed the plans.

In a statement read at the meeting, he said the nearby Tyrley Cutting site of special scientific interest (SSSI) was a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from across the country and overseas.

Councillor Gittins said the plan would have a “detrimental effect on wildlife and visitor enjoyment”.

Objections were also received from 12 members of the public, while there was one letter of support.

Nick Williams from Berrys, agent to the applicant HLW Farms, asked councillors to defer the application rather than go along with the officer recommendation of refusal.

He said: “On Monday morning last week we received a notification from Shropshire Council that the recommendation was to grant planning permission.

“On Monday afternoon, we received further notification from the council saying instead they would be recommending refusal.

“The last minute u-turn is off the back of comments from Shropshire Council’s public protection team who, at the 11th hour, have stated that additional odour survey work could be required.”

Mr Williams said despite the short notice, the applicant’s odour consultant had provided the additional information requested – but the council department and Environment Agency were yet to respond to it.

In response, Mr Hall explained that the first email suggesting officers were recommending approval was an “administrative error”.

He added that the public protection team had changed its stance after receiving a report from the objectors’ odour consultant – a leading expert in the field who had co-authored national guidance on the subject.

Mr Hall said the report raised “valid comments of a very technical nature” which the council “can’t ignore”.

Councillors agreed to defer a decision to give public protection officers time to consider the new report from the applicant’s odour consultant.

Councillor Vince Hunt said: “I have to say at the beginning of this I was very minded to go with the officer’s recommendation, but now that we have had this extra information I do believe and I will be moving that we go for a deferral.

“The decisions we make here can only be made based on the information that we have, and clearly we have just discovered that we don’t have all of the information that we need to make the correct decision, and a lawful decision.”