Sedgeford poultry farm plan shelved after protests

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Developers behind plans to build a poultry farm housing up to 360,000 birds between two West Norfolk villages have shelved the scheme.

A letter confirming withdrawal of the application by Newcombe Baker Farms Ltd to develop the former Whin Close site on Docking Road, Sedgeford, has blamed recent objections for the decision.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners, though they have also urged local people to remain cautious.

In the letter, which was published on the West Norfolk Council website on Wednesday, Brian Barrow, managing director of the applicant’s agents Acorus Rural Property Services, said most of the concerns about the project had been raised in the last month.

He claimed that the application had previously been proceeding “normally” and the recent comments left insufficient time both for residents to understand what was being proposed or for them to address the issues put forward.

Mr Barrow wrote: “Faced with the weight of these recent objections, which have led to significant emotional pressure being put on the applicant, it has been decided to withdraw the application to allow greater understanding of the project.

“The rationale for this is to seek to satisfy the concerns of those who seem to have become so violently opposed to the poultry unit.”

Mr Barrow claimed objectors had been “quoting and disseminating misinformation, inaccuracies and prejudices about modern poultry farming and indeed the application itself.”

He said the decision to withdraw the proposal had been taken following consultations with parish council chairman Pat Dawson and Conservative Parliamentary candidate Henry Bellingham.

He added that the applicants would outline their intentions for greater community engagement over the coming weeks.

Nick Skerritt, chairman of the No to Poultry Factory Action Group, which was set up at a public meeting on Sunday, said they would welcome further communication by the applicants to local communities.

But he added: “Whilst this withdrawal may be viewed as a positive development, and although welcomed at this stage, the local communities and its representatives will remain vigilant in their stance to oppose future applications on the basis of the likely impact on the local economy, environment, businesses and residents.”

News of the applicants’ decision to withdraw the proposal came only days after the establishment of the action group and a fighting fund to oppose the scheme.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting at Sedgeford village hall on Sunday evening where the group was established.

And more than £3,000 had already been pledged to finance expert advice and professional representation for the campaign.

The proposed site, which would be accessed from the B1454, lies around a mile west of Sedgeford and just under two miles to the east of Docking.