Woolpit Whiff farmer loses case

A FARMER fighting to overturn a council decision banning him having a rendering operation to create fertiliser at his farm has lost his case, after a public inquiry's inspector ruled against him.

A FARMER fighting to overturn a council decision banning him having a rendering operation to create fertiliser at his farm has lost his case, after a public inquiry's inspector ruled against him.

John Clarke had hoped to persuade inspector Peter Watson to quash Mid Suffolk District Council's decision to stop him creating the operation at his Rookery Farm in Drinkstone, near Stowmarket.

Mr Clarke and his team argued, during a four-day public inquiry at the authority's Needham Market chambers, that he needed to diversify after the collapse of the pig industry. Mr Clarke at one time had a herd of 8,000 pigs, but told the inquiry he no longer had any.

But parish council representatives from Drinkstone, Beyton, Woolpit and Tostock were among those arguing against Mr Clarke, with people fearing smells, noise, pollution and increased traffic on local roads.


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The district council had also argued that the process was an industrial operation unsuited to the countryside. The farm has been linked to the infamous Woolpit whiff which has plagued residents lives for two decades.

Mr Watson said: "The agricultural activities at Rookery Farm, including the cooking of animal waste and food for pig food, have been a source of harmful odours in the area for many years.

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"I sympathise with Mr Clarke's dilemma, but equally I recognise that, in the words of Judge Mellor, 'the residents of Woolpit are entitled to live their lives free of nuisance'. I dismiss the appeal.''

Penny Otton, leader of the district council, said she was delighted with the inspector's ruling.

She said: "To me this is a triumph for people power. Mid Suffolk District Council and all parish councillors who were prepared to stick their necks out and fight this to the end.

"People would have been desperate if they had to continue to live with this smell.''

In a statement yesterday Mr Clarke said he intends to challenge the inspector's ruling.

He said: "The inspector's decision is capable of challenge and my team of advisors are currently reviewing the position, and I expect to take the matter further.''

The public inquiry, including a site visit, was held during January and the inspector has just released his ruling after considering all the evidence.

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