Shropshire Star

Chicken farm near Market Drayton given permission to double in size despite concerns over smell

A chicken farm near Market Drayton is set to double in size after council planners brushed aside concerns over foul smells.

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The expansion was approved by Shropshire Councillors.

The scheme, proposed by HLW Farms for an additional four chicken sheds at the land near Hollins Lane, will house approximately 232,000 birds, in addition to the existing 260,000-bird capacity of the broiler units already on the site, following approval by Shropshire Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

It was the second time the plans had been before the committee, having been originally recommended for refusal by officers in November.

A decision was taken at that meeting to defer the application until an odour assessment report had been prepared.

Sutton upon Tern Parish Council had lodged an objection to the application, saying complaints had been received from residents regarding odours generated by the site, and added that it would have an “overwhelming environmental impact” on the area.

The parish council said: “There have been and continue to be numerous complaints relating to odour from the existing developments. Whilst an odour assessment report has now been produced there is concern that the minimal testing involved, four occasions, does not give the full picture.

“The officer report acknowledges that despite the applicants plan to fit ammonia scrubbers to the four new buildings and two existing buildings, odour levels will increase and we therefore believe there will be an adverse effect on the residential and local amenity.”

But the applicant said the installation of so-called odour scrubbers on the new units, as well as an additional two set to be fitted to the existing buildings, would reduce the odour pollution from the site.

Nick Williams, planning agent for the applicant, told the committee: “Four odour sniff test surveys were undertaken on and around the site by technical specialist odour consultants, following industry guidance.

“The odour assessment submitted with the application now comprises the most comprehensive undertaken for a poultry unit in Shropshire, and it is hoped this provides members with the confidence to support the officer’s recommendation.

“The proposal includes the installation of scrubber units on the new sheds and two of the existing sheds, the scrubbers will reduce odour emitted from these sheds as confirmed by the assessment.”

He added that the applicant operates the site with an odour management plan in place to minimise smells to an “acceptable level”.

Councillor David Vasmer opposed the scheme, saying the scrubber units would spoil the setting of a Grade II listed canal bridge and conservation area at the site.

“I’m increasingly concerned about the number of chicken sheds that are all over the place and I do have great concern about that,” he said.

“I would say that the damage to heritage assets does not balance out the public benefits. I don’t think there’s a great public benefit from having so many chicken sheds throughout the county.”

The scheme was approved by seven votes to four.