Action call on meat rendering factory

Residents fighting plans for a meat rendering plant in mid Norfolk are calling for an independent inquiry.

Residents fighting plans for a meat rendering plant in mid Norfolk are calling for an independent inquiry.

Protesters in Great Witchingham, near Dereham, are urging communities secretary Ruth Kelly to step into the row, as Banham Compost continues with building work at the facility, which could process more than 78,000 tonnes of fallen stock annually.

In September, the Attleborough-based company applied to Broadland District Council to develop two units at Clay Hall Farm. Although a decision has not been made, works started on the site a month later.

The firm claimed the authority had already granted permission for the development of a single unit in 2003.

A few months later, jurisdiction over the planning application passed to Norfolk County Council.

As the scheme looks set to be completed before the end of July, residents in Great Witchingham are now making a last-ditch attempt to stop the plant from processing the animal waste.

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Concerned resident John Martin said: "What is on the ground does not coincide with what was permitted years ago. The county council is turning a Nelsonian blind eye to obvious breaches of planning control.

"The county council is bending over backwards to help Banhams develop the site, in case there is an outbreak of bird flu and hundreds of tonnes of infected meat need to be processed."

Simon Woodbridge, leader of Broadland District Council, said: "We are by no means turning a blind eye to the case. We are determined to protect the residents against intrusive development, but on the other hand we must also bear in mind that Banhams have some entitlement over the property. Legislation has to be rigorously applied."

Nick Johnson, planning services manager at Norfolk County Council, said: "Although the site in question already has permission for a rendering plant, the current owners have submitted a new application to develop the site in a different way to that already permitted.

"The county council has not given any approval or entered into any agreement with the developer that would in any way condone the development of the site at this time, in any way other than that covered by the existing planning permission."

Last night Barry Richardson, director of Banham Compost, said the rendering plant would be run to the highest professional standards to ensure it causes no nuisance to residents.

"We have an existing planning permission for a single building which was given by Broadland District Council in 2003. Both Norfolk and Broadland are fully aware of what we're doing," he said.

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