Calls to block farm set to house up to 141,000 chickens

The village sign for Shadingfield and Willingham St Mary was unveiled after two years of planning. P

The village sign for Shadingfield and Willingham St Mary was unveiled after two years of planning. Picture: Robbie London - Credit: Archant

Plans to build three poultry houses to store up to 141,000 chickens have been met with widespread opposition.

More than 24,000 people have backed a petition from animal rights charity PETA to block the proposal for land next to West End Farm in Shadingfield.

Each of the three buildings will house around 47,000 chickens, which will arrive at the site one-day-old.

The matter is set to be discussed by East Suffolk Council's planning committee later this year.

While the public consultation on the plans continues until March 16, 86 letters of objection have already been sent to councillors from residents in Waveney and Norwich, as well as from PETA and the Compassion in World Farming organisation.

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As well as concerns about animal welfare, the objections also raises concerns about the impact of increased traffic, smells and noise pollution on the "beautiful and tranquil" area, with one stating: "It's a horrible building with horrible intentions."

A spokesperson for the charity stated: "Chickens are intelligent, social animals who can feel pain and distress.

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"Thousands of gentle birds would be crammed into each of the three proposed buildings and denied the chance to do anything that comes naturally to them, such as roaming freely, roosting in trees, and interacting with their parents. Chickens are curious, active animals who, in nature, spend their time foraging, exploring, and taking dust baths.

"Chickens naturally live for up to 11 years, but on this farm, they'd be sent to the abattoir when they're 33 to 37 days old."

The charity has also claimed the proposal would diminish the character of the rural landscape, while ammonia from the chickens' waste would affect air quality, human health, the environment and wildlife.

PETA director Elisa Allen said: "Thousands of compassionate people have spoken, and East Suffolk Council should heed their concerns for animal welfare, the environment and the health of the community. PETA is calling for this plan to be scrapped, sparing thousands of birds a lifetime of suffering and an agonising death."

Parker Planning Services, the agent acting on behalf of the applicant, and East Suffolk Council have declined to comment on the application until the matter has been heard by councillors on the planning committee.

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