Public meeting called as Sedgeford poultry farm opponents ponder fighting on

Map showing the site of the proposed new Whin Close poultry farm near Sedgeford
Map showing the site of the proposed new Whin Close poultry farm near Sedgeford
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Opponents of a controversial poultry farm in a West Norfolk village will hold a public meeting next week amid continuing anger over the scheme.

Supporters of the development in Sedgeford, which was approved earlier this month, say the experiences of other Norfolk communities who live near similar enterprises does not support objectors’ case.

But leaders of the No to Poultry Factory action group, which has called the meeting, say passions are still running high.

Group secretary Peter Goddard said: “There is a huge depth of feeling against this inappropriate development.”

Plans for four sheds, accommodating up to 180,000 birds at a time, on the old Whin Close site, off Docking Road were backed by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee on August 4, following a site visit.

But objectors say the decision ignored the strength of feeling against the scheme, which saw 10 surrounding parish councils unite to oppose it.

They also claim their 5,500 strong petition against the plan is 10 times the number of objections against plans to extract silica sand from land between Dersingham and Snettisham, which were dropped by Norfolk County Council last week.

Mr Goddard said: “This is a poor example of democracy when locals overwhelmingly object to something but their councillors disregard those strongly held views and vote for it or do not vote at all.”

The meeting will take place at the Sedgeford village hall next Tuesday, August 23, from 7.30pm to discuss potential next steps.

One option may be to seek a judicial review of the decision.

But an environmental permit is still needed to enable poultry operations to take place there. The group says it has already expressed its concerns to the Environment Agency.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said he had been “shocked and angered” by the planning decision.

But he added: “What we must now do is accept the decision but work tirelessly to ensure that all the conditions are adhered to.”

A spokesman for the developer, Newcome Baker Farms, said: “The problem for the No campaign is that despite their fearful predictions, all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Sixty-seven Norfolk towns and villages and some of our largest tourist attractions have lived for many years with poultry barns on their doorstep and there are no significant problems.

“The planning method was robust, detailed and diligent and we believe if they challenge the democratic process the remaining objectors will incur significant expense for themselves and the council before ultimately failing again.

“It is a great pity because less meetings and a little more time acquiring a better understanding of the Norfolk poultry industry would give the reassurance they seek.”