The proposed development at Frochas Farm is industrial in scale due to the sheer size of the industrial poultry development (IPU). It is fully industrial in operation, with all major activities being automated and computerised. It is also industrial in nature based on its size, intended stocking density and high degree of automation.
The 150,000 bird rearing complex comprising of three linked 50,000 bird units is industrial in scale. Each unit is 115m long, 21m wide and 5m high. The units are topped with 36 large, high speed fans to remove dust and contaminated air to atmosphere. The fans will increase the overall unit height to approximately 6m. The six large feed silos are 8.4m high.
The metal cladding and corrugated concrete roofs add to the industrial appearance of the complex.
The application also includes provision for dirty water tanking, climate control building, concrete apron for HGV vehicle loading and turning, concreted passages between the units and a track of about 100m length between the units and the local public roadway.
The total internal concreted area of the units is 7,245 square metres. The overall concreted footprint of the development will be 2 acres.
The selected site and construction design makes for an isolated, obtrusive and incongruous complex of industrial appearance, rather than an agricultural facility that is characteristic of and visually complementary to the open countryside.
Local Development Plan (LDP) Policies and Objectives
LDP policy DM4 requires the scale and size of a development not to have an unacceptable effect on open views. The landscape and visual impact assessment supporting the application, fails to explain how the large scale industrial metal sheds and silos will fit into the adjacent open parkland landscape directly to the south of the proposed site.
LDP strategic objective Sec.3.3.5 requires that design, scale and size of all new developments in open countryside should respect the character of the surrounding area. Due to the open countryside and pubic parkland to the south, the development of the proposed industrial poultry unit (IPU) would be in violation of this guideline.
The proposed landscape mitigation involves tree planting that will take several years to reach an effective height and will interrupt the open nature of the farmland hillside.
LDP Policy E6 on Farm Diversification
The proposal does not meet the requirements of the policy on the following grounds:
- It is not of an intensity of use appropriate to the setting and location
- The construct of new buildings do not lie within or immediately adjacent to the existing farm building complex. The separation is over 100m.
- The road capacity is not compatible with the additional traffic generated. The 1.3 mile stretch of single track country lane is not suitable for HGV traffic and cannot safely handle increased movements associated with an IPU.
Welsh Government Planning Directorate
In June 2018 the Welsh Government Planning Directorate wrote to all LPA heads (document available here) of planning regarding large intensive agricultural unit developments, in particular poultry units:
- Concerns were expressed about exercising particular care when proposed units would be in close proximity to homes, schools and other sensitive areas.
- The concerns expressed centred on potentially polluting emissions from IPUs, particularly ammonia, dust, noise, odour, manure and litter.
- Equally, the directorate called for ‘significant’ consideration to be given to environmental protection as well as the wellbeing of people along with impact on natural and cultural resources when considering IPUs.
- The directorate expressed a need to improve the assessment of actual cumulative impacts of ammonia emissions and nitrate pollution from IPUs.
There would appear to be a gap between the optimistic theoretical pollution impacts derived from the statistical forecasts used to support IPUs and the empirical evidence of people in close proximity, particularly in terms of their health and well-being.