Woolpit Whiff: Farmer wins landmark legal victory

A FARMER blamed for causing the infamous “Woolpit Whiff” is celebrating after he secured a vital planning victory to safeguard his animal waste plant.

Dave Gooderham

A FARMER blamed for causing the infamous “Woolpit Whiff” is celebrating after he secured a vital planning victory to safeguard his animal waste plant.

John Clarke has spent more than �100,000 on his dispute with Mid Suffolk District Council and villagers for decades over his rendering operation at Rookery Farm in Drinkstone, which has plagued the village with bad smells.

But he has now spoken of his delight after achieving a milestone legal decision after his application for a certificate of lawful development was granted on appeal.


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A council spokesman said the authority was disappointed by the decision of the planning inspectorate and hinted that it might launch an appeal.

But a jubilant Mr Clarke said: “We have been saying for a number of years that we have been legal all the time. It has been very stressful being threatened with legal proceedings for such a long time and it is a relief that it is all over.

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“We have been haemorrhaging money because of all the hearings and appeals and it will be nice to now concentrate on work and not having to worry about defending myself. This should stop all the allegations about our activities being illegal.”

Last year, Mr Clarke was backed by the planning inspectorate in his bid for a rendering permit which allows him to turn dead poultry into fertiliser.

But the farmer then had to attempt to get a certificate of lawful development to continue the business. His application was turned down by Mid Suffolk but that has now been overturned by the planning inspectorate following the public inquiry.

A spokesman for the district council said: “Naturally we are disappointed with the decision and the council's stance at the moment is that we will be looking closely at the decision with legal representatives to determine whether we should challenge it.

“The smell issues remain the same and our environmental health team will continue investigating. We only ever get a few complaints over the winter but there is always a high level in the summer.”

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