Objectors demand more time to comment on Sedgeford poultry scheme

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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Residents opposed to plans for a large poultry farm on the edge of a West Norfolk village have demanded more time to register their objections.

Concerns have been raised over the consultation period for the proposed development at Sedgeford largely coinciding with the Christmas and New Year festivities.

Community leaders are due to debate the plans at a meeting in early January.

But borough council officials say they will still accept public comments on the scheme until a decision, which is expected in the spring, is reached.

Earlier this month, Newcome-Baker Farms announced it was submitting a new application to build four poultry sheds, which would accommodate around 150,000 birds, on the old Whin Close site on Docking Road.

An initial scheme for eight barns was shelved in the spring following fierce local opposition, which the company maintains the new plans address.

But opponents maintain the new plans are still too large for the area and pose an unacceptable risk to local people’s health and road safety.

Critics are also unhappy both with the timing of the new application and the initial deadline for responses being set for Friday, January 8.

During last week’s Sedgeford parish council meeting, William Barber, managing director of Newcome-Baker Farms, said the application had to be submitted now, so it could be validated by early January.

He said: “If we didn’t do it within a calendar year (of the original application), we would have to pay a new planning fee to get it validated.”

But Sedgeford resident Sharon Walker said it could be seen as an attempt to push the scheme through during the Christmas holidays.

She is also one of many local people who have criticised the 21-day period for comments on the application and called for that time to be extended until at least the end of January.

She said: “I’d like to make an open appeal to the council for more time to consider this industrial scale development which will have a major effect on many villages in this rural corner, reliant on tourism for its livelihood.

“We must have time to make sure people know about it.

David and Helga Lendrum, who live in nearby Ringstead, added: “There simply isn’t enough time for organisations concerned with the protection of nature and the environment to investigate this new application by January 8.”

But a borough council spokesman said that was just the minimum period in which comments can be made.

She said comments would be accepted and considered until the application goes before the authority’s planning committee.

The application is currently expected to be discussed at the committee’s March meeting.

The project will first be considered at a Sedgeford parish council planning meeting which will take place at the village hall on Monday, January 4, from 7pm.