RESIDENTS in Somersham can breathe a sigh of relief after a planning application for long-term agricultural works close to their homes was rejected.

RESIDENTS in Somersham can breathe a sigh of relief after a planning application for long-term agricultural works close to their homes was rejected.

The plans were for two irrigation reservoirs at Bridge Farm, in the neighbouring village of Colne. However, access to the works would not have been via the farm's Holme Fen Drove address but via a new haul road across the 29-hectare site, exiting onto Chatteris Road, in Somersham.

It was estimated that work to excavate 527,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel to create the reservoirs would have taken four-and-a-half years and resulted in 100 HGV movements per day along the quiet country road.

Cambridgeshire County Council received almost 70 objections to the plans, which were rejected at a meeting of the council's development control committee on Wednesday last week.

Mathew Latta, managing director of RA Latta Farms which submitted the application, said the rejection could affect the future of his business.

"The planning committee's decision to refuse our application was very disappointing," he said. "Our plans would have had many positive effects on wildlife, the general public and local employment.

"The reservoirs we wished to create were vitally important to our family farming business. The need for a secure water source is paramount to producing the quantity and quality of crops demanded by today's market place. We will continue working with the council to try to resolve the issues raised so as to secure the future of our agriculture business and maintain our contribution to the nation's food supply, a subject of paramount importance to us all."

Councillors rejected the application in line with planning officers' recommendations.