Thousands have objected – but a huge poultry farm could still be built close to York

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29 Jul 2019 @ 8.06 am
| Environment, News

A large poultry farm for 144,000 chickens could still be built on the edge of York, despite thousands of objections against the plans.

City of York Council last summer rejected an application by Yorkshire poultry company H Barker & Sons, who wanted to build a new farm on land it owns off Bradley Lane in Rufforth, consisting of three poultry houses and additional buildings.

But YorkMix has learnt that the applicant has now appealed against the decision, meaning a national planning inspector will re-examine the case. A hearing has been scheduled for mid-September.

More than 6,700 people had signed a petition against the plans and around 7,700 objection letters were sent to the council.

Many of the objections were motivated by animal welfare concerns, with the petition being submitted on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), but the council made clear that such issues were not legitimate planning considerations.

Bird strikes

This shows the approximate position of the poultry farm, next door to Rufforth Airfield. Photograph © Google Street View
Objectors including local parish councils also cited the impact upon the greenbelt, potential impact on drainage, the increase in traffic through local villages and potential pollution.

But the council said its decision was due to the feared impact of the development on flights in and out of York Gliding Club nearby.

Council officials said in August 2018:

  • The development, by virtue of its scale, dense pattern of landscaping and close physical relationship to a principal runway of Rufforth Airfield would give rise to significant and material harm to the safety of aircraft and associated gliders taking off and landing, contrary to government planning policy.

In its appeal against the decision, Barker & Sons’ agent, Carter Jonas, questions the council’s interpretation of national guidance and says more consideration should be given to the economic impact of the proposed farm.

It says there would be “substantive economic benefits” including construction jobs, further jobs in the broader supply chain, and enhanced food security.

It also notes the lack of an adopted Local Plan for York, saying less weight should be accorded to the older documents the council still refers to.

The appeal also cites studies by commissioned consultants, which concluded that the probability of increased accidents at the gliding club was remote, and that there was “no material change” in the risk of birdstrike.

The farm company and the council have prepared written cases for the planning inspectorate, and a four-day hearing is due to begin on September 17.

Originally, Barker and Sons had wanted to build six poultry houses, with capacity for 288,000 birds, but they halved the plan in 2016.