Poultry plan with more than 300 objections raises stargazing fears

Children sit on a fence and look at the night sky full of stars

Chicken farm plan raises concerns it could impact star gazing - Credit: Pixabay

An astronomy group has raised fears that a massive poultry farm could impact its views of the stars.

Breckland Astronomical Society is among more than 300 respondents to have raised objections over proposals to create a new site to rear more than 350,000 chickens on land at Rockland All Saints, near Attleborough.

PF Southgate Ltd set is seeking permission to build eight 97m x 22m poultry houses on land off Swangey Lane.

Since it lodged the application in November, more than 300 people or groups have written to the local council to object to the plans, including the astronomy group.

The scheme includes lighting, and Dan Self, the organisation's chairman, said he was concerned this would have a significant impact on its activities.

The organisation has registered the surrounding area as a 'dark sky discovery site' - an area currently away from local light pollution with good sightlines for stargazing.

"Norfolk is now undergoing massive development and somehow the onus is on us to object to light pollution," he said.

"At night this will most likely spoil our view of what is the most glorious and dense regions of the night sky, the centre of our galaxy."

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The society's observatory is around 2 miles from the proposed site.

Mr Self also worried that the light could impact moth caterpillars, with LED lights shown to impact insect populations.

"Grave concerns" about the scheme were also raised by the Great Ellingham Parish Council (GEPC), which objected "in the strongest possible terms", citing environment, ecology, wildlife, groundwater, pollution, landscape, highways and the location in its comment.

A cockerel watches over a white chicken. Dereham Town Council has said cockerels can stay on allotme

More than 350,000 hens would be kept on the site

The GEPC response said the site was close to Swangey Fen, a site of special scientific interest and is an area home to rare and protected species, including red kites, otters and red deer.

It added: "The GEPC believes a development which requires 1,140 HGVs to support it each year cannot be regarded as ‘relatively small scale’.

"It requires 37.5 18 tonne lorries, per annum, to remove the dead chickens alone.

"The planned development being so close to the fishing lakes and other areas of open water, seems to give a heightened risk with regard to avian influenza."

It also expressed disappointment that there had been no attempt to discuss the plan with the three nearest parish councils and their communities.

While many objectors were from around the site, others came from the wider Norfolk area and beyond, with some coming from as far away as Grimsby.

The developer was contacted but did not wish to provide a comment.

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