Dispute rages over chicken farm plans
Feathers are set to fly in a Cornish village after plans for a £2 million poultry farm on its doorstep were earmarked for planning approval.
Jamie Hatch, of KB Products in Kelly Bray, near Callington, has applied to build three units that can accommodate up to 131,000 birds at nearby Stoke Climsland, despite fierce opposition from local councillors and residents.
A decision is due to be made by Cornwall Council's East Area Planning Committee meeting at Camelford on Wednesday.
Feelings have been running high in the village, where residents feel Mr Hatch should put any expansion on his existing site at Kelly Bray, three miles away.
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Some even formed an action group called the Say No to Chickens in Stoke Climsland Association (SNCSCA) to make their views known.
The opposition has been so vehement in some quarters that Mr Hatch wrote a letter to Cornwall Council saying he would never have believed he would be subject to such a torrent of abuse for wanting to build high-welfare poultry units to produce food for the UK market.
He wrote: "If the disgraceful websites full of insinuations and veiled threats were not enough, I had to endure a vile poster campaign carried out under the cover of darkness by faceless cowards."
He said it was the sinister events that threatened the safety of his family that made him withdraw his first application.
"Never have I believed that my application was flawed, but I hoped that the disgusting behaviour of a small minority would stop if I withdrew my application because I was genuinely concerned for my wife and daughter's safety," said Mr Hatch. "My daughter is less than one year old. These people should be utterly ashamed of themselves."
Mr Hatch said some locals had contacted him offering support and urging him not to give up, and he had resubmitted his plans.
However, his allegations have been challenged by Tony Tudor of the SNCSCA, who said residents were against the plans because the roads were too narrow for the size of the lorries which would drive to the site.
Mr Tudor said: "We carried out investigations in the village, but there has been nothing to back up his claims.
"These building are on an elevated site and will be seen from a wide area. They will stand out like a carbuncle."
A report to the committee from the planning department recommends permission is granted, subject to conditions which include confirmation that an Intensive Farming Environmental Permit has been obtained from the Environment Agency.
Those in favour of the application say it will bring huge advantages to associated businesses and employees with spin-off jobs including breeder rearing farms. "This is a £2m investment which promotes economic growth and job opportunities, and prosperous rural economies," said one supporter.