First look at chicken farms set to house 800,000 birds
Proposals for two poultry farms housing up to 800,000 chickens near a cluster of Suffolk villages are being unveiled for the first time.
Epigs Ltd, based in Hoxne, near Eye, want to build 12 poultry sheds on land to the east of Woodlane Road in Southolt – and another seven on land to the south of the B1117 in Horham.
Mid Suffolk District Council is now seeking opinions to two environmental impact assessments (EIA) submitted by the company.
EIAs are needed for developments of this size and type – and Epigs bosses want to use both sites to rear poultry.
What is being proposed?
If full proposals expected to be published later this year win approval, up to 507,600 broiler chickens would be raised at the Southolt farm, and 296,100 at the Horham site.
Planning documents suggest 12 poultry sheds with feed silos, a home for a site manager, water storage tanks and access routes would be built at Southolt.
Development would be mirrored at the Horham farm, but with seven sheds instead of 12.
Full planning applications are yet to be drawn up for both farms, but the environmental impact assessment consultations offer the public a first glimpse at the two developments.
Sheds at both sites would be home to chickens on a 35-day (five week) cycle, with a total of eight flocks per year.
Six new jobs could be created as a result of the ventures, according to the EIA.
Developers anticipate there will be 256 traffic movements per cycle.
What do people think of the developments?
Concern has already been raised by villagers who fear the farms will harm wildlife and turn the countryside into an “industrial estate”.
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Of the proposed Horham site, Jacques Groen said: “It will lie like a huge open sore in a vale of the river Horham Beck, in plain sight, a mere stone throw away from residential Horham's Manor Park.
“The popular footpaths around this beautiful vale will be reduced to a stroll in an ugly, noisy, horrendously smelly industrial estate which will equally affect village life and has roughly got the same footprint as the Horham housing stock.
“We live a somewhat sleepy life in this corner of Suffolk and all this goes right against the grain of our choice of lifestyle but if we do not now wake up to this monstrosity it will be all too late when we try to do so afterwards.”
Horham and Athelington Parish Council has also lodged an official objection.
Meanwhile, 22 objections have already been submitted on the online consultation for the Southolt site, with no public comments yet offered in support.
Southolt Parish Council has also expressed its concern.
Mark Beckham wrote: “The proposed development is totally out of keeping for this location in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.
“It will seriously affect the wellbeing of all who live in Southolt and its neighbouring villages.”
He fears extra traffic, smell and pollution may all cause problems for surrounding villages.
What has been said in support of the proposals?
Redmore Environmental Ltd was commissioned by Epigs to carry out an odour assessment in support of the proposed poultry sheds in both locations.
In a subsequent report, bosses wrote: “Predicted odour concentrations were below the relevant benchmark level at all sensitive locations in the vicinity of the site for all modelling years.
“Resultant impacts were classified as not significant in accordance with the stated criteria.
“As such, potential odour emissions from the proposed poultry sheds are not considered to represent a constraint to the development.”
Highways bosses said a transport assessment will need to accompany the full planning permission consultation when it is launched.
Representatives for Epigs have been approached for further comment.