Hickling residents launch 60 objections against free range chicken farm

Free range chickens in Norfolk.; Photo Simon Finlay. 25.06.02

Free range chickens in Norfolk.; Photo Simon Finlay. 25.06.02 - Credit: Archant

A proposed plan to build a free range chicken unit in Hickling has received almost 60 objections largely on account of the smell, dust, and noise the site will emit.

Free range chickens in Norfolk.
Photo Simon Finlay.

Free range chickens in Norfolk. Photo Simon Finlay.

A chicken barn of 2,689 sq m will sit in the 40-acre field, housing 32,000 hens at Poplar Farm in Sutton Road.

The family-run business headed-up by Robert Norman is already operational, but would like to expand into producing free range eggs.

Their application is supported by Attleborough's Crowshall Veterinary Services, who care for a vast amount of poultry in East Anglia.

Philip Hammond, from the surgery, said: 'The future demand for free range eggs is escalating, and is very important to the economy of East Anglia.

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'These facilities conform to a very high standard, and allow the hens the ability to range naturally, fulfilling one of the five key welfare freedoms.'

This argument was backed by Anglia Free Range Eggs' Harry Irwin, who said: 'The free range egg market is growing and we expect this trend to continue. This means that modern, high welfare free range farms are needed to meet customer demand.'

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The debate has been joined by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.

He said; 'I have a policy of not taking sides, however three of my constituents wanted me to ensure that the council understood the strength of their concern.'

These concerns were echoed by retired GP, Dr Lily Game, who said: 'The field the birds are allowed to roam in will rapidly become covered with faeces, urine, dead skin and feathers.

'Also, I understand the hen unit can be very unpleasant, consisting of mainly ammonia and hydrogen sulphide, both of these are known to be very acrid with exceedingly pungent smells.

'As a retired general medical practitioner I am very concerned that this scheme will adversely affect the health and general well-being of the people of Hickling.'

Other complaints related to the value of houses in the area falling, as well as road congestion and a negative effect on tourism.

Mr Stacey, of The Green, Hickling, said: 'Google maps has now given us the ability to view the area that we visit, live or stay in. 'People will not choose to holiday, live in or visit a village that has a very large hen unit so close to the village centre.'

However, Hickling Parish Council has withdrawn its application.

It said: 'The council thanks the effort made by the applicant to alleviate the concerns of residents. The applicant allowed objectors to visit comparable sites, which disappointingly was only taken up by three parishioners, which was a very useful exercise and significantly reduced their concerns and objections.'

North Norfolk District Council's planning committee will be discussing the proposal on Thursday, July 6.

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