Villagers' midnight protest over noise

RESIDENTS in a row of cottages who staged a midnight blockade after claiming their lives were being ruined by a new farming operation may have won a partial victory.

Laurence Cawley

RESIDENTS in a row of cottages who staged a midnight blockade after claiming their lives were being ruined by a new farming operation may have won a partial victory.

Families living in Broom Hill, Fakenham Magna, near Bury St Edmunds, say a good night's sleep became an impossibility after a chicken rearing unit for more than 30,000 birds was set up just yards from their homes on the edge of the village.

The protesters claimed that lorries arrived throughout the early hours of the morning and the noise from their engines, a forklift truck and thousands of chickens meant sleep was hard to find.


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Teacher Stuart Fidler was one of those who decided on direct action after frequent attempts to reduce the racket - that often went on from 1am to 5am - failed.

Mr Fidler, who lives in an end of terrace cottage with his wife Esther, the clerk to Fakenham Magna Parish Council, and their two daughters aged six and four, said: “We were at the end of our tether - we had gone nights with being woken up by the noise.

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“We had tried contacting the farmer and Euston Estates who own the land but with no success. We felt there was no other choice but to take positive direct action."

The angry residents set up a human barrier to prevent the lorries going onto the site which now has 30 giant chicken arks on it - each one holding 1,200 young birds.

“My wife and I are both local and my family have been involved in farming around here for generations so it is not as if we are townies who move to the country and then complain." added 34-year-old Mr Fidler.

“But the arrival of the chickens nearly drove us to tears - we were exhausted because it became impossible to sleep while they were operating.”

Mr Fidler, who's family background is in farming, said that following the early-hours-of-the-morning protest the families had now spoken to the tenant farmer, Harry Irwin, who had said it was necessary to collect the birds in the early hours of the morning to fit in with schedules at the processing factories.

However he did say that he would try and arrange for the collections to take place earlier in the day if possible,

A spokesman for the Duke of Grafton's Euston estate that owns the land declined to comment yesterday and it was not possible to contact Mr Irwin, who comes from Saxilby, Lincolnshire.

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