Minutes Extraordinary Meeting 30th November 2015

Minutes of an Extraordinary Meeting of Clehonger Parish Council held on 30th November 2015 at 7.30pm at The Innesfield Community Centre

Present: Cllrs G Savory, J Harris, J Rees, A Morgan, C Protherough, A Davies and P Jeffree

In attendance:   Mrs A Wright (Clerk), Ward Councillor Steve Williams, and 26 members of the public.

  1. Introduction and welcome by the Chairman

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He explained the purpose of the Meeting and that all views “for” and “against” the planning application 153121, to be discussed, may be freely expressed. He stated that if persons wishing to speak would raise their hand, to indicate that they were wising to contribute, that would be helpful. The applicants had been invited to attend, or send a representative, but had not been able to do so. They had, however, offered to find out the answers to any questions as may be put forward at the meeting.

  1. To accept apologies for absence

Apologies had been received from Cllr Whittal and Cllr Walker.

  1. To note declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest made.

  1. To discuss the Planning Application as detailed here:
APPLICATION NO & SITE ADDRESS: 153121 – Land South of Bowling Green Farm, Clehonger, Hereford, Herefordshire
DESCRIPTION: Proposed erection of 4 no broiler rearing buildings, 10 no feed bins, boiler building, straw storage building, hardstandings, attenuation pond and re-alignment of access.
APPLICANT(S): Mr P S J Whittal
GRID REF: OS 346193, 237293
APPLICATION TYPE: Planning Permission

The Clerk read out a list (not exhaustive) of valid objection reasons to a planning application and those that would not be valid for consideration:

Valid considerations:

  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Visual amenity (but not loss of a private view)
  • Adequacy of parking/loading/turning
  • Highway safety
  • Traffic generation
  • Noise and disturbance resulting from use
  • Hazardous materials
  • Smells
  • Loss of trees
  • Effect on listed building and conservation area
  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Landscaping
  • Road access
  • Local, strategic, regional and national planning policies
  • Government circulars, orders and statutory instruments
  • Disabled persons’ access
  • Compensation and awards of costs against the Council at public enquiries
  • Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  • Nature conservation
  • Archaeology
  • Solar Panels

Sometimes raised but not normally planning considerations:

  • The perceived loss of property value
  • Private disputes between neighbours
  • The loss of a view
  • The impact of construction work or competition between firms
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Ownership disputes over rights of way
  • Fence lines etc
  • Personal morals or views about the applicant

It was noted that it is important to understand that the material considerations relevant to any particular application will need to be weighed in the final decision process according to their seriousness and relative importance.

The Ward Cllr then explained that he would be the Ward Member asked to comment on the access point to the site as this fell within the Clehonger Parish. The actual planned site for the units fell within Allensmore Parish and this would be for Ward Cllr Jon Johnson to comment on. He said that the Planning Officer would be minded to pass the application as it was “as near a perfect place as can be found in Herefordshire” and “that the access can easily be adjusted to make it satisfactory”. The Ward Cllr then highlighted concerns that had been raised at the Allensmore Parish Council Meeting, the week previously, concerning drainage.

The meeting then went on to hear about concerns over increased traffic, particularly HGV movements, vermin, flies, odour and the health of local school children (Clehonger Primary approximately 1 km from the proposed site). Surface water and drainage were sited as concerns with potential contamination and flooding likely to result. There were concerns with the computer data modelling and it was commented that genuine data from existing plants could have been used. The concerns about strong and unpleasant noxious odour for periods and intense smells from muck spreading would be injurious to health, business interests, leisure and tourism and indeed daily amenity for residents able to smell the output from the units. The content of the air flow from the sheds was described as being high in particulates and with faeces, bacteria, viruses, spores and pathogens likely to be present in the emitted dust.

There was a discussion regarding the potential number of HGV movements, estimated at 1000 additional per year and the access and ingress point being on a relatively small and busy road where it was felt that additional large traffic turning in and out could have serious consequences. Previous injury accidents and fatalities on the stretch of road, including the access point, were mentioned.

The Clerk was asked to read out a letter from the Soil Association outlining potential risks to human health associated with large-scale, intensive poultry houses such as those proposed. The letter spoke of a different site but listed items such as disease concentration and antibiotic resistance. It also mentioned that emissions and/or effluents that have a significant potential deleterious effect on the health of persons in the vicinity may be present. In particular it was noted that there could be contamination of the area with pathogens such as salmonella, campylobacter, MRSA and E. coli. Research also suggested that within certain distances of such facilities there are likely to be emissions such as ammonia and bio-aerosols in concentrations that are potentially harmful to human health.

The paper went on to state that malodour (such as that likely to be emitted) has a clear impact on quality of life, reducing residents ability to engage in gardening, family gatherings, cooking outside, visiting neighbours and drying laundry.

The research detailed in the Soil Association letter went on to identify issues, for persons working in or living close to such units, as notable reduction in lung functionality, chronic coughs, wheezing, eye irritation and identified infections such as certain MRSA strains. The letter went into some detail about the health risks of such farming and went on to sum up that all of the health risks, in conjunction with associated issues for road users and leisure amenity, were compelling reasons why planning permission should be refused.

The meeting heard representation from a number of concerned residents regarding the issue of the “blight” they felt would be visited on the countryside by such a farming development. The concerns over clean air and odour, increased traffic movements and potential for contamination of the water course and flooding were all mentioned. Farms such as this were potentially visited day and night for grain deliveries etc. There was no confidence expressed regarding emission control with large percentages of existing units allegedly breaching compliance criteria. There was also concern regarding noise from the large number of fans used to change the atmosphere in the sheds once every five minutes.

There was a discussion regarding ammonia, chemical treatment of litter and levels of amount of muck to be spread on the land. Concern was raised regarding the functioning of local business and tourism. Events such as the H Art which is hosted close to the Clehonger Church would likely be downwind of the odour from the units.

There was comment regarding the World Health Organisation and the future capability of antibiotics to fight viruses.

Concern was expressed regarding the ability to enjoy the countryside feeling that walking and leisure would be spoiled by noxious odours.

In consideration of any potential benefits to the diversification, those present stated that this would be minimal in terms of jobs and with the possible removal of the free range chicken operation at the farm, this may be even less in terms of net jobs.

In summing up the Chair said that people may write to the Herefordshire Council to convey their comments. The Parish Council would take on board the concerns heard and would be objecting to the proposed application on behalf of the Parish Council. The Parish Council representatives had been for a site visit and the co-operation of the applicants was acknowledged in this regard.  The comments would now be drafted and circulated for feedback.

It was commented by the Ward Cllr that the application would be likely to go to full planning committee for a decision. There would be the opportunity for the Parish Council to speak and also for the Ward Cllr to do so. The application would then be considered by the committee and decided by voting. It was noted that there was a high concentration of broiler houses in the County already.

Cllr Jeffree had taken note of some questions for the applicants and these included asking about the number of decibels of noise generated by the fans.

  1. Reminder of date of next Parish Council Meeting

This would be held on Thursday 17th December 2015 at Innesfield, 7.30pm.

The Meeting closed at 8.50pm