Protesters and council unite on plant

JON WELCH Protesters have welcomed a council's decision to oppose a rendering plant in the Norfolk countryside but say the authority is not doing enough to stop "unauthorised" building work at the site.

JON WELCH

Protesters have welcomed a council's decision to oppose a rendering plant in the Norfolk countryside but say the authority is not doing enough to stop "unauthorised" building work at the site.

Members of Broadland Council's planning committee voted unanimously yesterday to object to plans by Banham Poultry for alterations to a rendering plant being built at Clay Hall Farm, on the edge of Great Witchingham. Planning permission has been granted but Broadland planning officers believe work taking place falls outside its scope.

The matter has been referred to Norfolk County Council, whose solicitor described the work as "unauthorised" in a letter to a local resident.

The plant, which lies in the Wensum Valley, close to the Marriott's Way path, will process 1,500 tonnes of fallen stock - such as animals that die through illness or have to be destroyed - animal waste and inedible meat each week.

Mike Haslam, planning consultant to Great Witchingham Parish Council which opposes the scheme, told the meeting: "It really is quite extraordinary how many policies this application offends."

Most Read

David Sayer, who runs the nearby Blackwater equestrian centre said: "My worry is not for me, it's for the Wensum Valley - it's for the heritage of a remarkable valley and a remarkable river."

Robin Knowles (Conservative) said the plant was "a blot on the landscape."

Council leader Simon Woodbridge (Conservative) said he had been struck by foul smells from an earlier rendering plant on the site. He said: "It blights the lives of people living in Great Witchingham, there's no doubt about that."

Shirley Peters (Liberal Democrat) said: "We should be asking Norfolk County Council to refuse this application."

And Alan Mallett (Conservative) added: "Seldom have we seen officers, members and the public end up in total unison. I would urge the county council to come down like a ton of bricks with regard to the present infringements."

Councillors agreed that officers should write to the county council, strongly objecting to the application, which will go before county planners next week. After the meeting, protester John Martin said he was pleased with the outcome, but added: "The part we don't get is the failure of Broadland to recognise they have their own ability to take enforcement action, irrespective of the county council."

Mr Haslam said: "I was pleased with the strength of feeling. I'm very unhappy that the company is so flagrantly disregarding the rules: they haven't got planning permission. I can't believe it's in the public interest to allow that to continue."

Robin Goram, director of Banham Poultry and Banham Compost, said the company had planning permission. He said: "Permission was granted in 2003 for a rendering plant to deal with 1,500 tonnes of waste a week and that's exactly what we are constructing. There is no unauthorised building work taking place.

"The application for planning permission was to provide environmental benefits and nothing more than that. The plant will be constructed as per the original plan and will be open in June or July this year.

"There will be no smell. If there was, the Environment Agency would close us down or put notice on us."