Sedgeford villagers learn more about new poultry farm proposals for area

William Barber, managing director of Newcome-Baker Farms (left), explains his plans to Val Johnstone and Robert Sears
William Barber, managing director of Newcome-Baker Farms (left), explains his plans to Val Johnstone and Robert Sears
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Around 150 local residents crowded into Sedgeford’s village hall yesterday to have their first look at revised plans for a proposed poultry farm between Sedgeford and Fring.

The new plan envisages four barns, each 300ft by 66ft, on Newcome-Baker land at Whin Close, which will be hidden from the road by a screen of trees, and comes after mounting opposition to the original eight-barn complex.

William Barber, managing director of Newcome-Baker Farms, said: “We are very encouraged by how the day went and feel that many people got a far better understanding of what we are doing as a farming business”.

The parish council originally welcomed an eight-barn plan but later rescinded that decision after opposition within the village.

Peter Goddard, who opposes the scheme, said the campaign against it had some 80 members.

He said: “It is likely to result in an increase in the volume of heavy lorry traffic on an inappropriate B road. I feel this will be of little or no benefit to the local community.”

Another visitor added: “We just don’t want the Sedgeford stink.”

But veterinary surgeon John McCaig dismissed the chance of odour reaching intrusive levels. “And we’ve got to produce food,” he said.

Representatives of Newcome Baker Farms and the farming industry, together with tourism businesses were on hand to answer questions.

Mr Barber said: “We acknowledge there are concerns especially in regard to odour management and traffic movements. We will need to demonstrate in our application that this will have very little impact for the local community.”

Other concerns expressed at the session included the dangers of water run off into a local stream or the polluting of the water table in rainy weather and the disposal of birds that will die prematurely.

The four barns will hold 160,000 birds which will be sent for slaughter normally when they are between approximately 33 and 38 days old depending on the needs of the market. Currently the industry calculates that 3.5 per cent of reared birds die prematurely which suggests 45,000 birds a year at this site.

Supporters of the scheme pointed out that the UK consumes two million tonnes of chicken a year and that an additional 1.3 million tonnes will be needed by 2020.

Currently the UK imports around 5,5 million birds every week, which advocates of poultry farms say would be better produced in this country which has the highest hygiene and care standards in the world.

Newcome-Baker Farms has requested a meeting with the borough council’s planning department and following discussions with its partners will decide whether to proceed. A decision is anticipated in the next few weeks.