Chicken farm bid set to be defeated

HUNDREDS of people who objected to a half-million bird battery chicken farm at Little Stukeley look set to get their way. Planning officers are recommending that Huntingdonshire District Council refuse planning consent for the 12-broiler house farm becaus

HUNDREDS of people who objected to a half-million bird battery chicken farm at Little Stukeley look set to get their way.

Planning officers are recommending that Huntingdonshire District Council refuse planning consent for the 12-broiler house farm because the applicant's accompanying environmental statement "is particularly poor with a number of significant inaccuracies and omissions".

Moreover, following the withdrawal of a previous application at Lodge Farm, near Huntingdon Racecourse, the applicant, GC Field and Sons, had ample time to have got it right, said planners.

The Stukeley and Brampton Parish Councils, English Nature, the Wildlife Trust and Cambridgeshire County Council's archaeologist all objected to the proposal, as did 807 individuals. Nearly 700 people signed petitions against the proposal.

HDC received three letters of support for the plan, including one from a Peterborough resident and another from the Country Land and Business Association, which said site screening and the need for a permit from the Environment Agency would allay objectors' fears.

The Campaign Against Lodge Farm Fowl Factory is an action group set up by residents in Huntingdon, Brampton and the Stukeleys to fight the intensive chicken farm. Its chairman, Derek Pigg, promised that the group would attend next Monday's meeting of HDC's development control panel in force with more objections and with banners and placards.

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He said: "I am delighted at the planning officers' recommendation to refuse planning permission. I hope that the elected councillors who will determine the matter will follow their advice.

"Public concern about the proposal is continuing to grow as more people become aware of it and the damage it would cause to our rural environment."

Objectors and planners were concerned about odour from the site, dust, waste disposal, noise, effects on the landscape and public rights of way, traffic, the potential impact on tourism if the racecourse were affected, nature conservation - particularly the effects of sites of special scientific interest at Brampton and Portholme, Huntingdon, which is also the district's only Special Area of Conservatioin - and potential pollution of Alconbury Brook and the River Great Ouse with nitrogen.

Planners were also concerned to protect the setting of nearby Waterloo Farm, which is a listed building.

Other complaints that the development would attract animal rights protesters, the risk of avian flu, the depression of house prices and the loss of view are not planning concerns, the panel will be told on Monday. The lack of robustness of, and inaccuracies in, the environmental statement are, however.

The council's consultants found that in a dozen separate headings the statement was incomplete, lacked methodology, used wrong data or computer models or understated the environmental impact.

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