Concerns raised over duck farm plans

CONCERNS have been raised over plans which would see an intensive duck-rearing unit built near Saxmundham.Residents, animal lovers and environmentalists have raised a number of objections to proposals to erect an 80ft by 300ft building able to house around 12,000 ducks at Redhouse Farm, Sternfield, including concerns about noise, traffic, pollution, and smell.

By Sarah Chambers

CONCERNS have been raised over plans which would see an intensive duck-rearing unit built near Saxmundham.

Residents, animal lovers and environmentalists have raised a number of objections to proposals to erect an 80ft by 300ft building able to house around 12,000 ducks at Redhouse Farm, Sternfield, including concerns about noise, traffic, pollution, and smell.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has received some 180 letters of objection, compared to around three in support of the proposal, which is likely to go before the north area development control sub-committee on June 22.

Under the proposals, the birds would be reared from day-old ducklings through to the time when they are ready for processing around eight weeks later.

The building would be heated to a relatively high temperature when the ducklings arrive, and this would be gradually reduced over a three-week period.

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Planning and development consultants Tim Harbord Associates of Lavenham have presented the scheme to the council on behalf of farmer Ian Rix.

He explained that Mr Rix was seeking ways of diversifying the farm business, and would like to establish a duck rearing enterprise to provide ducks under contract to Green Label Foods, based at Debach Airfield.

Mr Habord pointed out that the farm is within easy access of the A12, making it a good location for a new contract-rearing site.

He added that the building would be naturally ventilated, minimising the release of smells.

Dirty water would be discharged to an underground tank, and at the end of each cycle, litter would be carted immediately from the site to be stored and ultimately spread over fields on the farm, Mr Harbord said.

“It is not expected that the development would have any unacceptable consequences in terms of impact on visual amenity, residential amenities or road safety,” he added.

“This type of proposal has been proven as a valuable contribution to the diversification of farm enterprises elsewhere and would provide a similar benefit to Mr Rix's enterprise.”

But local objector Gloria Wade, of Benhall Green, said she was concerned about a number of issues, including the spread of disease such as avian flu, pollution, vermin, the ethical aspect of the proposal, as well as noise, smell and the suitability of the local roads.

“All of us who heard about it were absolutely horrified,” she said.

Suffolk Coastal Green Party has also objected to the plan, pointing out that Sternfield is “a very nice little village”, and claiming it would be “wrong to allow a large industrial type building in the adjacent countryside”.

In a letter to the council, the party said: “The proposal involves raising ducks unnaturally in confined spaces without water to swim in.

“If the committee do not wish to consider the moral aspect of the cruelty involved, it should be realised that the proposal may well provoke legal protests, which would not be conducive to the quiet enjoyment of Sternfield village life.”

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