Sedgeford poultry farm scheme ‘can still be stopped’, campaigners insist

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A controversial poultry farm proposal can still be stopped if enough conditions are placed on its operations, campaigners have claimed.

Planning permission for four poultry sheds on the old Whin Close site at Sedgeford was granted earlier this month.

But the farm still needs to be given an environmental permit before it can begin operations.

An application has already been submitted to the Environment Agency and residents attending a public meeting in the village on Tuesday night were urged to voice their concerns about the scheme.

Public consultations on the permit application close on September 23.

And Nick Skerritt, chairman of the No to Poultry Factory action group, said: “We need as many people as possible to write in.

“The more people write to them, the more seriously they will consider it.”

Although the meeting was told it is likely developer Newcome Baker Farms will be granted an operational permit, it was also suggested that meeting the conditions imposed upon it could impose significant extra costs on the company.

Mr Skerritt said the group’s planning consultant had already written to the agency to call for five specific conditions to be placed on any permit.

He also announced that the group would be submitting its own report to the agency setting out its concerns over the potential impact of the farm’s operations.

He added: “If we can get enough conditions, we can make it uneconomic and unviable.”

However, despite the focus on environmental issues, there was still deep anger about the decision of the West Norfolk Council planning committee to approve the scheme on August 4.

Among the targets of criticism were Dersingham ward councillor Tony Bubb and Brancaster representative Liz Watson, whom it was claimed had both voted in favour of the proposal, despite the opposition of parish authorities in their wards.

And vice-chairman Tim Thurston suggested residents could consider how their councillors voted when the next elections come round.

The meeting also heard calls for formal complaints to be lodged over the authority’s handling of the application and the conduct of some planning committee members.

But the group appears to have ruled out the possibility of taking legal action in a bid to quash the decision.

Mr Skerritt said any move to seek a judicial review of the decision would be “prohibitively expensive.”

A proposal for the group to conduct its own air quality tests in the area was also rejected for a similar reason.

Around £4,000 was raised to fight the plan from residents’ pledges after the planning application was lodged.

The meeting was told that around a fifth of the money remains. Most of it has been spent on the services of the consultant who spoke on objectors’ behalf at the planning meeting.