New battle looms over 'Woolpit whiff'

RESIDENTS could be faced with a fresh battle in the "Woolpit whiff" saga after the farmer behind the storm took advantage of a planning loophole.John Clarke, of Rookery Farm, Drinkstone, has made another bid to use a controversial processing plant after finding out the creation of the unit was approved by a planning application in 1999.

RESIDENTS could be faced with a fresh battle in the "Woolpit whiff" saga after the farmer behind the storm took advantage of a planning loophole.

John Clarke, of Rookery Farm, Drinkstone, has made another bid to use a controversial processing plant after finding out the creation of the unit was approved by a planning application in 1999.

Mr Clarke, who wants to turn a pigswill feeding unit into a rendering plant, has applied to Mid Suffolk District Council for a lawful development certificate allowing him to use the unit for agricultural purposes.

He said: "Planning permission was granted in 1999 so we have just asked them for a certificate of legal use. There is nothing ambiguous about it – the plans were approved so we went ahead and built."


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The rendering plant would enable Mr Clarke to create fertiliser at his farm but the move has angered residents who have flooded the council with letters opposing the plans.

Mr Clarke said: "We are confident we will get it through because we are working within the framework of the planning permission, but it will probably go to court."

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A four-day public inquiry earlier this year had initially rejected Mr Clarke's plans after he told them he needed to diversify following the collapse of the pig industry.

At its height, Mr Clarke's farm held a herd of 8,000 pigs but he told the inquiry he now had none.

Parish council representatives from Woolpit, Drinkstone, Beyton and Tostock said the unit would increase air pollution, noise and traffic on local roads.

The "whiff" has plagued the community for two decades and Mr Clarke last year considered quitting farming and dividing his land between a housing development and the Woolpit Business Park, but these proposals were also opposed.

Mr Clarke said: "It's bizarre that people would rather have pigs than houses if the smell is really as bad as they say it is. It's very frustrating when you cannot get an answer either way."

A council spokesman confirmed they had received a request from Mr Clarke asking for a lawful development certificate, and said the matter would be discussed by their planning development committee sometime in the next three months.

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