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Loopholes in planning and environmental policy are allowing ‘an industrial chicken complex in unspoilt countryside’ says Mid Worcestershire MP Sir Peter Luff.
He is urging government ministers to act on three major concerns.

His intervention follows a packed public meeting this week in Upton Snodsbury, where up to four separate chicken units are proposed, each of four sheds and producing hundreds of thousands of chicken a year. Two applications are already being considered by the Environment Agency and Wychavon District Council – who last week voted unanimously to reject the first application.

Local campaigners in the Wychavon Parishes Action Group have highlighted some serious shortcomings in policy and regulations which Sir Peter is now taking to ministers.

In a letter to Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Defra, and to Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Planning, Sir Peter has set out three particular areas of national government policy that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The letter states,

“First, no other industrial activity, accept possibly intensive pig production, would be allowed on these sites. It is simply wrong to categorise intensive chicken farming as agriculture and to exempt it from the full rigour of the planning system. If other much more benign industrial applications were made for these sites they would be dismissed out of hand as not complying with any national or planning policies. Any food processing factory proposed on this site would not be allowed, while something as environmentally intrusive as a chicken farm is apparently acceptable – a bizarre situation.

“Second, a chicken farm requires both planning permission and an environmental permit from the Environment Agency. In Upton Snodsbury it is clear that the various applicants are playing the system, one by applying for planning for the environmental permit and the other by applying for the permit before the permission. This means neither the District Council nor the Environment Agency can consider the cumulative impact of both proposals – nor that of a third and fourth proposal lurking in the wings. It is essential that the government acts quickly to compel so called ‘twin tracking’ of both the planning permission and the environmental permit, also enabling both the regulatory bodies concerned to learn from the information provided to the other by the applicants.

“Third, I am amazed to learn that, although the environmental permit controls odours during the life cycle of the chicken and the cleansing of the chicken houses and although the planning permission can control matters such as lorry movements, there is no control whatsoever over the disposal of the chicken manure generated. My constituents live in fear of the huge quantities of the manure being spread over neighbouring farms with the severest consequences in terms of odour generated. Regulations must be brought forward quickly to correct this anomaly and properly control the disposal of chicken manure – for example for obliging its use in anaerobic digestion systems.”

Sir Peter said,

“I hope that the ministers will understand the deep concern of residents in Upton Snodsbury and the surrounding villages. These intensive chicken units should not count as agricultural farming and it is completely wrong that the applicants are allowed the get around the system in the way that they are.

“National rules need to change to address their entirely understandable concerns.

“I will do all I can to protect residents and the environment in Upton Snodsbury and the wider area from these very unwelcome applications.”


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