‘This isn’t nimbyism’: Council rejects controversial plans for intensive poultry farm

Councillors have this week voted against the advice of planning officers in rejecting plans for a 210,000-bird chicken farm over odour and ammonia pollution concerns.

According to the Shropshire Star, five members of Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee voted in favour of refusing the scheme at Footbridge Farm in Tasley, Bridgnorth on Tuesday. Two members abstained. 

Planning permission for the development had been originally granted in 2017 but a legal challenge was brought against it by a resident of Bridgnorth in relation to the likely effects of odour and dust arising from the spreading of manure that would be produced by the poultry operation.

The claim was dismissed by the High Court in 2018 but planning permission was quashed by the Court of Appeal 2019.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the applicant Matthew Bower’s environmental statement did not adequately address concerns over odour resulting from the proposed spreading of manure on nearby fields.

At the planning committee meeting, councillors heard that farmer Bower was now proposing to take all manure off-site to be processed, and that ‘air scrubbers’ would be used in the four chicken sheds to reduce ammonia and odour.

According to the Shropshire Star, planning officer Kelvin Hall said it was accepted that the scheme would lead to a small increase in ammonia levels at nearby protected wildlife sites but the council’s ecology team had concluded this would be “unlikely to cause significant adverse effects”.

However, members of the committee argued that there were no intensive poultry units (IPUs) in Shropshire that lay so close to the boundary of a major town, with the proposed site situated 700 metres from the edge of Bridgnorth and just 400 metres from a proposed development of 550 homes currently being determined.

Councillor Les Winwood, representing Bridgnorth West and Tasley said: “This isn’t ‘nimbyism’ – this sort of development should not take place in anyone’s backyard.

“I have not found a single resident of Tasley or Bridgnorth that supports this application and its position that will affect so many residents for many years to come if allowed in this semi-urban area.”

Ian Pick, agent to the applicant, told the committee that improvements had been made to the plans since the Court of Appeal decision to “fully address” the issues identified.

He said: “The judicial review found fault with one aspect, which was in relation to the odour and dust impacts in relation to the spreading of manure. The planning policy now is exactly the same as the planning policy was back in 2017, so there is no reason why this decision would be any different.”

Before the vote, the council’s planning manager Tim Rogers warned members that the authority would find it difficult to justify the decision if the applicant were to appeal – and that it would most likely be left to committee members themselves to explain their reasoning to an inspector.