Viewing area idea outlined for controversial Sedgeford poultry farm

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Developers behind a controversial poultry farm have outlined plans for a public viewing area, which they hope will improve public understanding of the industry.

A series of amendments to the planned development of the Whin Close site at Sedgeford, were approved by West Norfolk Council’s planning committee on Monday.

The decision came almost exactly a year after the scheme was given the go-ahead, despite fierce opposition.

The new application allows for additional facilities including a welfare block, a dead bird room, weighing rooms, water tanks, gas tanks and an electricity generator, plus a substation.

William Barber, managing director of Newcome-Baker Farms, said the changes were necessary for animal welfare, biosecurity and sustainability reasons.

But he also told the committee he wanted to bring people closer to the industry.

He said: “The public does not have much knowledge of how these units operate. What we’d like to have is a viewing area. If we can show the public what we’re doing, we will have a more productive conversation.”

“The UK has the very highest standards, but we import five million birds a week from countries that have lower standards than we do.”

Although the Sedgeford and Docking parish councils supported the new application, their counterparts in Fring and Heacham both objected.

Planning committee member Terry Parish, who represents the Heacham ward, said the applicant should have know what kind of additional measure would be needed earlier.

He echoed earlier remarks from Andrew Morrison, who said: “I feel we’ve been let down by not being told what was going to be there in the first place.

However, committee chairman Vivienne Spikings said the application was “perfectly fair and normal.”

She said: “I really do despair when people keep coming up with the most spurious objections.”