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Controversial Market Drayton egg farm plans could be approved next week

Market Drayton | News | Published:

A controversial egg farm proposal that activists say would blight a picturesque village near Market Drayton could be approved next week when planners make their final decision.

Plans for a 32,000-hen free range farm near Norton-on-Hales will be decided on at a planning meeting next week, and the Betton and Norton Action Group vowed to make their feelings known after council officers recommended the plan being approved.

The application by Merlott Chitty Farms has attracted more than 200 objections on Shropshire Council's planning website, for issues including extra traffic, wildlife habitat loss, concerns over water and air pollution.

Now, four months after the planning application was made, it is on the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting of Shropshire Council's north planning committee, at 2pm at Shirehall in Shrewsbury.

This is the second time the application has been submitted, with the previous proposal being withdrawn in December.

Planning officers have recommended that the plans be approved on Tuesday subject to certain conditions, including that bird feed is only delivered between 7am and 9pm, and that the buildings are olive green to minimise the visual impact.

Their report said: "The proposed development is located approximately 300 metres from the closest neighbour which is located to the west. A detailed odour impact assessment has been provided in support of the application.

"A noise impact assessment also accompanies the application. This assessment confirms that impacts from plant noise are negligible, and transport noise low."

However, the final decision is left to councillors at next week's meeting.

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Serious concerns

An action group set up to combat the proposals said it would attend the meeting in full voice.

A statement from the Betton and Norton Action Group said: "Whilst we are extremely disappointed to see that the case officer has made a recommendation for approval, we are pleased to see that the case has been delegated to the North Shropshire planning committee for a final decision.

"We do not agree with the conclusions drawn in the case officer's report, in particular the assessment which has been made on the sensitivity of change to the landscape and historic environment from the proposed development, and also the significant impact it will create regarding ammonia pollution on the community and wider area.

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"We will be bringing our grievances to the meeting on Tuesday and have every faith in those elected to represent the community."

Norton-in-Hales Parish Council and Loggerheads Parish Council both object to the application for its 'serious concerns' including road safety and the area's landscape.

One of the online objections came from Jessica Sargent, who said: "I object to this application on behalf of myself and my family. We believe that at a time of environmental crisis and with many councils including Shropshire declaring climate emergencies, to approve this application would be irresponsible and unethical.

"The council has a responsibility to protect its public and with these large farms being proven to create disease, soil degradation, water pollution and contribute to high carbon emissions the council must consider the danger they pose to future generations.

"I am a mother of two and I am terrified of what this planet might be like for my children in the future especially beautiful Shropshire where I have lived my whole life.

"It may only be one farm but Shropshire is a county known for having the highest level of industrial livestock farms in the country just below Herefordshire, just because we have all this lovely land does not mean every inch of it needs to be filled with money making enterprises that take advantage of animal welfare for financial gain.

"I encourage the council to consider the public when making their decision and understand that another livestock farm is not required in our county."

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