A PLANNING application has been lodged for a large poultry rearing unit near Tenbury.
Under the proposal around 200,000 birds at any one time would be reared in four purpose built units at Bockleton.
The scheme is at Smallings Farm and would involve the construction of four buildings that would each house 47,000 birds for rearing from birth until ready for the table.
One day old chicks would arrive at the facility and stay for 35 days which is the normal rearing cycle for standard size birds.
At the end of the rearing period the chickens would be taken away by lorry to slaughter and following cleaning a new flock would be installed.
It is envisaged that there would be eight flocks of chickens produced from the unit each year.
All of the units would be computer controlled to manage feeding and to make sure that the correct temperature is maintained. There would also be feed bins and storage on the site.
The planning application on behalf of Romers Farm was lodged with Malvern Hills District Council and the target date for determination is February next year (2015).
At the moment the farm is made up of 425 acres of owner occupied land and 200 acres that is rented. The farm is a mixed arable and livestock business with potato production a major element. Other crops are grown and there is also a sheep flock as well as beef rearing and finishing.
However, the application states that because of the economics of potato production it is intended that this will be replaced by the poultry rearing.
An environmental assessment produced for the applicant claims that the development would be unobtrusive and that the impact of the smells would not damage the lives of people living in the area and the smell insignificant and within limits.
They say that foul and surface water drainage would be separated and measures taken to prevent pollution of streams, rivers and ground water.
Tenbury Town Council will consider the proposal when it meets in September. The town council does not make the final decision but is a statutory consultee.
Although the consultation process has only just started there are already strong objections which include concerns about the ‘morality’ of large scale poultry farming with one comment describing the unit as a ‘concentration’ camp for the birds.
Practical objections centre largely upon concern about the smells from the unit, noise, extra traffic and the risk of pollution.
Herefordshire Council has expressed concerns about the impact of local traffic with large lorries which could include trailers having to use narrow local roads with limited passing places. One comment fears that the unit could be cut off in winter after ice and snow.
The landscape officer with Malvern Hills District Council says that while the site is screened it would be prominent as viewed from the road.
A local protest group is being formed to co-ordinate objections to the scheme and it seems certain that that application will be highly controversial.