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Controversial chicken farm plans approved – but still await final go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 14:42 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:43 10 September 2020

A decision on a controversial chicken farm which would house thousands of birds will go to central government. Picture: Chayakorn Lotongkum/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A decision on a controversial chicken farm which would house thousands of birds will go to central government. Picture: Chayakorn Lotongkum/Getty Images/iStockphoto

@ chayakorn lotongkum

Controversial plans to build a chicken farm that would store 141,000 birds has been given the go-ahead by a council.

The proposed site in Shadingfield would be made of three sites housing 141,000 chickens. Photo: Google MapsThe proposed site in Shadingfield would be made of three sites housing 141,000 chickens. Photo: Google Maps

But the final decision on the scheme is set to be made by the government – as no formal decision notice can be issued as yet, with the application “still subject to the outcome of a call in request to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.”

The scheme to build three poultry houses for the farming of 141,000 broiler chickens on land next to West End Farm on Mill Lane in Shadingfield, near Beccles, was approved by councillors as East Suffolk Council’s planning committee North met via Zoom on Tuesday, September 8.

The village sign for Shadingfield and Willingham St Mary. Picture: Robbie LondonThe village sign for Shadingfield and Willingham St Mary. Picture: Robbie London

With four votes for the recommendations, three against and two abstentions from councillors, the Merrells Growers Ltd application was approved after councillors had voted in July to unanimously defer the scheme to conduct a site visit.

As the scheme centres around a poultry production unit that would house the chickens, the facility would comprise three poultry houses with an associated admin block, feed bins and vehicle access.

A decision on a controversial chicken farm which would house thousands of birds will go to central government. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoA decision on a controversial chicken farm which would house thousands of birds will go to central government. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

With 97 objections lodged by residents and consultees to the proposals, concerns were raised about the location and its proximity to the village, with smell, noise, traffic and the “perceived harm” to the surrounding environment all lodged.

Historic England and the Suffolk Preservation Society also opposed the plans on heritage grounds, as the factory would be built on the front of a historic moat farm, which is a “heritage asset.”

Highlighting these concerns and addressing councillors during the meeting, Lee Osmon said: “Moat Farm is currently in a fragile state, the construction of a monstrous chicken factory within 200m will decimate this rare and significant national asset in its setting.”

Caroline Ellis, chairman of Shadingfield, Sotterley, Willingham and Ellough joint Parish Council, and Cllr Judy Cloke also spoke out against the scheme during the meeting.

With the proposal part of a “regionally important supply chain meeting a national demand,” speaking on behalf of the applicants, Jonny Rankin of Parker Planning Services, said: “It is worth reiterating at this stage that the proposal is for agricultural buildings, on agricultural land, in an overtly rural district.”

After councillors debated the proposals, the application was narrowly approved.

After the meeting an East Suffolk Council spokesman said: “This matter is still subject to the outcome of a call in request to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“So although the resolution by committee on September 8 was to approve the application, we cannot issue a decision at present.”


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