Sedgeford poultry farm concerns continue

Meeting of Sedgeford Parish Council ANL-150319-115331001
Meeting of Sedgeford Parish Council ANL-150319-115331001

Villagers at Sedgeford have said they continue to stand vigilant against the possibility of a large -scale poultry factory being built there.

A proposal for eight sheds housing 300,000 chickens was withdrawn by local farmer William Barber in April.

But fear in the village remains strong and the group formed to fight it, No To Poultry Factory Action Group, has been taking expert advice on the possible medical effects that could be caused by such large-scale farming.

The campaigners believe the high number of chickens may increase the amount of birds affected by disease and over time may pose a threat to the local community.

Dr Mark Blunt, consultant in intensive care medicine, said: “I am particularly concerned at the increasing quantity of antibiotics used routinely in poultry factories for disease prevention. 

“In intensive production, with hundreds of thousands of birds kept in confined spaces, disease outbreaks are inevitable. 

“Of special concern is that using antibiotics in this way will lead to a reduction in the effect of critically important antibiotics in human medicine.  This is associated with more frequent and longer hospitalization, longer illness, higher risk of invasive infection, reduction in our ability to treat other illnesses such as cancer, and an increase in the risk of death.”

A significant body of recent research suggests that large intensive chicken factories are likely to result in a greater risk of emissions and/or effluents damaging the health of those who live in the area. 

In particular there is a considerable risk of contamination with pathogens such as salmonella, campylobacter, MRSA and E. coli.

Exposure to airborne dust from poultry factories can cause asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Peter Melchett, Soil Association policy director, said: “Anti-biotic resistant bacteria can be spread by the air to people living in the area and can also be passed to people in cars when they travel behind lorries transporting chicken to abattoirs.

“The sheer number of chickens in a large scale unit suggests that most local inhabitants and visitors with cars would have to remain behind such vehicles at some time.”