Sedgeford council says no to poultry scheme

GV of the proposed Poultry Farm Site at Sedgeford, the location is across the fields at the centre of our picture. ANL-160901-175437009
GV of the proposed Poultry Farm Site at Sedgeford, the location is across the fields at the centre of our picture. ANL-160901-175437009
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Community leaders have been urged to follow the examples of neighbouring villages and oppose a controversial poultry farm proposal when they debate it again next week.

The call to councillors in Docking was made after their counterparts in Sedgeford opposed the Whin Close development.

But developers say they remain confident the scheme will be given the go-ahead.

An extraordinary meeting of Docking’s parish council will take place on Monday after residents protested against its decision to support the Newcome-Baker Farms plan earlier this month.

They claimed the meeting where that decision was made, which was held on the same night as a special planning meeting in Sedgeford on the same subject, was not properly advertised, which the council denies.

But the Sedgeford council delayed its decision on the issue until Wednesday’s full council meeting, to allow all members time to study the proposals.

There councillors wrote down their views, rather than voting by a show of hands.

Chairman Sue Crump then announced that a majority had voted to oppose the application, although the breakdown of the voted was not disclosed.

One resident said as he left the meeting: “We’re absolutely delighted with that. We expect the other neighbouring parishes to follow suit.”

Heacham’s parish council has already expressed its opposition to the scheme, along with the parish meeting in Fring, while the authority in Snettisham has said it will back the Sedgeford council’s decision.

But a spokesman for the developers said they were “disappointed” by the decision, particularly as the council had initially supported its original proposal last year.

He said: “A great deal of fear has been spread about this proposal based on scare stories relating to much older units and very few facts about up-to-date poultry barns.

“We remain confident the planning process will recognise this and enable us to successfully obtain permission.”

But, in a separate development, tourism bosses have backed up opponents’ concerns about the potential impact of the scheme on the industry.

The developers have repeatedly insisted there is no evidence to suggest a negative impact on tourism businesses from poultry units, maintaining that large organisations that operate near similar sites have not complained about them.

But opponents maintain the spread of smells and dust from the site could drive visitors away from the area with major consequences for a sector that employs around 10,000 people and is worth almost £500 million to the local economy.

West Norfolk Tourism Forum officials have now highlighted the concerns raised by Nick Skerritt, chairman of the No to Poultry Factory action group and landlord of the King William pub, in a letter to the borough council last month.

The letter to chief executive Ray Harding, which was sent on behalf of the forum’s chairman, Tess Gilder, said: “The chairman would like you to read and perhaps consider your views and actions on the matter, such as reflected in the letter.”