Heal Eggs Ltd already has a facility for 64,000 cage-free birds at Osbaston, on a former RAF airfield site, and Telford and Wrekin Council has approved its application to build a second one approximately 500 metres to the south.
The Shawbury-based company, which employs around 45 workers, said British supermarkets have committed to stop selling eggs from caged hens by 2025, leaving a “substantial task” for the industry to switch.
A design statement, submitted on Heal Eggs’s behalf by planning agent Ian Pick of Ian Pick Associates Ltd, said: “This planning application seeks full planning consent to expand the applicant’s free-range egg production operations on the High Ercall Airfield site.
“The High Ercall Airfield site current includes an existing 64,000-bird free-range egg-laying unit, and this proposal seeks to expand the site through the erection of an additional 64,000 bird free-range egg-laying unit.
“UK supermarkets have made a commitment to change to cage-free egg production by 2025 which has given the industry a substantial task of replacing the colony cage production with free-range production over the next five years.
“As a result, around 30 per cent of the business’s current production has a requirement to cease over the next five years. The applicant is, therefore, pursuing the development of additional free range egg production units to replace the current colony cage production.”
RSPCA Freedom Foods standards require 2.5 acres of space be provided for 2,000 hens for them to qualify as “free range”, and Mr Pick confirmed the required 80 acres will be provided, with trees planted on at least five per cent of this.
Ercall Magna Parish Council supported the application, but asked for confirmation that a matching number of colony cage spaces would be decommissioned once the free-range facility was up and running.