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10/1954/MFUL | Erection of a pig unit comprising: 3 buildings, slurry store, attenuation pond and access track. | Land West Of Collyhead Farm Venn Ottery Ottery St Mary EX11 1RY
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Consultation Date: Tue 02 Nov 2010

Wales And West Utilities

Consultation Date: Tue 02 Nov 2010

Rural Champion Cllr

Consultation Date: Wed 15 Dec 2010

Clerk To Newton Poppleford & Harpford Parish Council

No comment yet made

Economic Development Officer

Comment Date: Wed 15 Dec 2010

In December 2008, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee reported:
"Over the past 10 years the pig industry has faced serious challenges in addition to the usual peaks and troughs of the pig cycle. The industry should be praised for implementing the changes required of it by UK legislation, and for attempting to organise itself and inform the public of the high welfare standards of British pork. However, there is evidence that several outbreaks of disease, together with the implementation of burdensome legislation and unusually high global prices of animal feed have left the industry either unwilling or unable to invest in the production systems necessary to improve efficiency in the face of overseas competition.
Retailers should be more mindful of changes in production costs affecting the industry in future and must be prepared to respond rapidly should producers be faced with the same scale of feed price increases as they were in 2006-07. Otherwise, the whole English pig supply chain is put at risk. In addition, the lack of transparency in the supply chain leads farmers to form the view that they are not getting a fair share.
The pig industry itself must ensure that consumers are aware of the difference in welfare standards between UK-reared meat and some imported pig meat, but the retailing and hospitality industry have a duty to label their products responsibly. The Government must support the Commission's proposals for food labelling changes, and must make clear to the retail and hospitality industries that it expects food to be clearly and unambiguously labelled with country of origin and welfare standard labels.
Defra must ensure that government departments and other public bodies source their pork and bacon from suppliers employing high welfare methods of production. In this respect, Defra must lead by example.
More generally, Defra must use its leverage to bring together the key elements of the pig meat supply chain to address the problems that threaten the sustainability of the English pig meat industry. Defra must discuss with the industry what work it can usefully commission to ensure the future sustainability of the industry. With goodwill and encouragement, we believe many of these could be resolved. Defra must seriously consider, in discussion with the industry, whether England needs to set up its own Pig Sector Task Force to tackle the issues such as labelling, carcase balance, productivity and efficiency facing the entire supply chain.
A level playing field between English pig farmers and their EU counterparts is unlikely to develop in 2013 when the EU ban on stalls and tethers is brought into force as several EU countries are assisting their pig farmers financially to make the necessary changes. The Government must ensure that never again are UK farmers placed at such a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts as a result of unilateral national action."
I apologise for quoting the House of Commons report so extensively. I think it provides a very useful context to the consideration of this application. Over the last ten and more years, UK pig population has declined by 39%. We have gone from producing some 116% of what we consume down to 69%. The fact is that we are now net importers of pork and over half of our specialist pig production units are loosing money (Arthur Rank Centre Briefing 660). I regard this application as a locally significant demonstration of the industry's efforts to reverse that decline by adopting and investing in production methods capable of underwriting the delivery of sustainable and profitable 21st century pig production.
Crealy Farms have been farming pigs for more than 40 years. In 2000 a new 600 sow outdoor production unit was established at Collyhead Farm to produce gilts for breeding. The unit is no longer viable and without major new investment to facilitate a move away from outdoor production, Crealy Farms' pig enterprise across all of its farms is likely to close.
The new pig production unit proposed by this application is designed to conform to the standards required under the Assured British Meat and Pig Welfare Assurance Scheme. Three new buildings will be constructed to provide a dry sow and service area, a farrowing area, weaner unit and offices, linked together to provide for the secure movement of pigs between the three stages of production. In total, the unit will accommodate 740 sows and 2,900 weaners. On completion the unit will consist of three linked production buildings, a slurry lagoon, rainwater lagoon, attenuation pond served via a new access track. The unit's only purpose is the production of profitable high quality weaned gilts (female pigs) for sale to other pig producers. All of the unit's weaned stock is to be 'finished' elsewhere. Accordingly the unit is not designed or intended to accommodate the production of finished pigs to pork or bacon weight.
I visited the site recently and regard what is proposed as an imaginative and sympathetic response to both the topography and setting of Collyhead Farm. When viewed in the context of the difficulties faced by pig industry nationally, it is pleasing to note that a local (East Devon) producer is willing to commit substantial new capital investment to an enterprise which has the potential to help overcome the current imbalance between what we produce and what we consume.
Pigs and pig production can all too easily be dismissed as an unsightly and odorous bad neighbour. Overcoming these concerns has, I believe, been central to applicant's approach to the design and delivery of their plans for Collyhead Farm. The technical and professional support they have commissioned to inform the design of the farm's infrastructure and on-going operational management will, I hope, lead to the creation of a successful and sustainable new East Devon farm enterprise.
I would be grateful if you would bring these comments to the attention of the Development Management Committee.

Nigel Harrison
Economic Development Manager

Environmental Health

Comment Date: Tue 14 Dec 2010

1 Introduction
We have considered the application recently submitted and, whilst we have no fundamental objection in principle, we have some concerns regarding the amount of detail provided, and the proposals for mitigating any potential environmental impacts on local residents. The planning system acknowledges that intensive farming units within 400m of dwellings have the potential to impact on them (a situation that has not changed even though a specific distance is no longer prescribed in guidance), and in this case the distance criteria is just met. It is also the case that any residual environmental effects can be mitigated, although probably not completely, by good design and management.
The important issue here is that this will effectively be a new farmstead within the open countryside. Initially this will be a substantial construction site, and then an intensive farming operation on a previously greenfield site.

2 Considerations
It is also considered important to look at the impacts in terms of planning, environmental permitting (if required) and statutory nuisance.
o Planning
When providing an assessment in planning terms, one must consider the impact on the amenity of residents and the area as a whole.
o Environmental Permit
Should a permit be required and granted (by the Environment Agency), any operation with a relevant permit thereby becomes exempt from nuisance action. However, the terms and conditions specified within the permit must be met (including best available techniques) and if these are not met, the permit holder may face enforcement action for non compliance by the Environment Agency.
o Statutory Nuisance
Once a planning application has been granted, it becomes very difficult to take a statutory nuisance action, as the "nature and character" of the location has then been changed forever by the granting of planing permission.
Thus the assessment of the application has to take into account all of the above; with the potential for causing a "statutory nuisance" being the worst case and something which would be totally unacceptable.
However, the impact on "amenity" is a different case and policy EN15 states that permission will not be granted for development which would result in unacceptable levels pollution of the atmosphere. Clearly the issue is one of "acceptability":

o Existing farms
Our officers have occasion to visit rural areas frequently, both as a result of complaint or for other reasons and we often have to remind local residents that farms are busy places with unavoidable noise, dust and odour and therefore a certain amount of inconvenience must be tolerated. For this reason we do not often receive complaints about noise, dust or odour from farms - not because they do not cause a certain amount of nuisance and inconvenience but because they are in a location which is an established farm. The situation with a new farm is different - this is a new enterprise and the person responsible must anticipate any environmental impacts and build in control measures to mitigate or minimise them. The overall intention is that the local residents should not suffer a net loss in their lawful enjoyment of their own properties, having taken into consideration the rural nature of the area and the fact that progress in farming is to be encouraged.

3 Environmental Issues
The applicant enquired as to whether a full Environmental Impact Assessment would be required. It was decided by Planning Officers that this operation did not meet the criteria for a full EIA. However the applicant has provided details of how they will address some nuisance issues but there is insufficient detail in some respects. We would expect the following issues to be dealt with in detail by the applicant in a situation where they hoped to establish a new intensive farming operation. The applicant will also be required to submit an Environmental Management Plan, incorporating details for the management of slurry, manure, odour, ammonia, noise, pests and waste water.
The issues which must be considered comprehensively and properly include :
1. Odour Control Measures: Specifically from the housing; during the cleaning process; and from the storage and management of slurry and manure.
2. Noise Control: From the houses themselves; from lorry movements; from the ventilation systems; from feed delivery and alarm systems; during construction.
3. Flies: Within the houses themselves, and also from manure and slurry stores.
4. Other pests: Notably rats.
5. Transport Issues: Delivery and collection routes and times.
6. Waste Management: Manure and slurry quantities, management and disposal arrangements; dead bodies.
7. Hours of work: potential impact outside of accepted normal working hours - 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am - 1pm on Saturdays; arrangements for controlling construction noise.
8. Foul Water collection and disposal.
9. Surface and groundwater conditions and control measures.
4 Issues for further consideration
The applicant has addressed some of these issues within documents submitted but we have the following concerns:
o We note that the application is for a farm of up to 740 sows, and 2900 weaners. If the buildings have the capacity to accommodate 750 or more sows, or if it is intended for the weaners to exceed a weight of 30kg, the applicant will be required to apply for an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency. It is our opinion that this may well be the case and we have asked the Environment Agency to comment accordingly.

o If an Environmental Permit is not required, environmental concerns regarding the potential for nuisances such as odour and noise fall to the Environmental Health Department of the Local Authority and the applicant would be required to adopt the Best Practicable Means to avoid nuisance. In practice this means that the same level of control would be applied as if the farm were to have an Environmental Permit, and the farm must demonstrate that they intend to use the best available techniques. For an intensive pig farm the most likely nuisance is odour from slurry handling, storage and management and we would expect to see an enclosed system, an odour management plan, and details of the arrangements for spreading in a way that will minimise the release of odours.

o There are 3 main sources of odour which may be detectable off-site:

a) The 12 ventilation chimneys which could act as point sources of concentrated odour.
We are concerned that the ventilation system may concentrate odour which may otherwise not be noticeable if it was released as fugitive emissions from the buildings at normal pressure. We appreciate that in some housing systems artificial ventilation is recommended but it can introduce odour issues which would otherwise not be there. The applicant's consultant has done some odour modelling and acknowledged that there is likely to be an increase in odour generated above that arising from the current use of the land. We note that the consultant has assumed 1 point source per building whereas in fact there are 4 - this may affect his conclusions and a further comment on this would be helpful.

b) The slurry collection arrangements and lagoon.
The applicant has proposed a slurry lagoon with floating cover, but has provided few details of slurry management. It appears that the slurry will be collected under the houses and piped to the lagoon. Open systems are not considered to be Best Available Techniques and we would require an enclosed system of collection, storage and distribution. We would also require a Slurry and Odour Management plan because the most odorous aspect is the spreading of slurry on land, albeit probably beyond the application site. We would require the applicant to use a sealed tanker for collection and distribution, together with an injection, trailing shoe, band spreading or similar low odour application system. The Slurry management plan must include a commitment to follow the guidance in the Code of Good Agricultural Practice which requires slurry spread on arable land to be incorporated within 6 hours, and manure within 12 hours. It would also require all spreading to take place during the working day on Mondays to Fridays only.

c) The waste water collection system.
The applicant proposes that surface water is collected in a separate open storage tank which overflows onto a swale before finding its way into the surface water system. Yard washings in pig farms can be heavily contaminated with slurry or manure and we would require more details of the attenuation system proposed to prevent the tank becoming contaminated with solids. The infiltration rates on the swale land must be sufficient to ensure that surface water flooding does not occur.

The Odour Assessment concludes that local residents are likely to experience odour from time to time over and above that which is currently the case. The consultant suggests that employing good working practices will reduce emissions and their impact but fails to suggest what these should be. This is the most important aspect of considering odour - we already know that there is likely to be odour as described above; the important thing for us to consider is what mitigation is proposed to minimise it.

o The applicant mentions a borehole on site which would be used as a private water supply. More details are required of measures proposed to protect this from contamination (if a risk is anticipated - if there is no risk, the applicant should be able to say so).

o The applicant has undertaken an ammonia assessment which has concluded that the ammonia level in the local area is likely to be increased, but will not "exceed the critical level for annual mean concentrations". Again the ventilation system within the buildings may increase the potential for ammonia to be detectable off-site, and we require more detail regarding the control of ammonia emissions.

o The applicant suggests that flies are unlikely to be a problem. It is our experience that stable flies are usually associated with pig farms and can be a nuisance off-site. We would require this aspect to be more fully considered.

o The main noise sources include vehicle movements, feed deliveries, alarms and the ventilation fans. The applicant states that the noise level from each fan is about 69dB. This is very high, and could be noticeable off-site. Their proposed locations between the buildings may not have an absorption effect as suggested. The noise could be reflected and therefore this would have the opposite effect of amplifying the noise. It is more usual for ventilation fans such as these to have a level of 43dB which would not be noticeable. The fans should be rated as low as possible to enable them to fulfill their primary function whilst minimising the potential for noise and odour nuisance. We do not expect vehicles or deliveries to have a significant noise impact as the number of movements is low, and the farm is some distance away from local residents. Alarms should be selected which are not audible offsite.

o The applicant mentioned a wood chip boiler to be used for heating purposes. This may require its own environmental permit from EDDC Environmental Health and the applicant should supply details including input and output data.

To summarise :
a) The applicant may need Environmental Permits as suggested above.
b) The applicant should address and respond to the points raised in Section 4 "Issues for further consideration" above.
c) The applicant should, in due course, submit an Environmental Management plan as recommended within the DEFRA Code of Good Agricultural Practice.

We would be pleased to respond again and suggest planning conditions in due course when further information has been received.

Natural England

Comment Date: Mon 29 Nov 2010

The application site lies within the East Devon AONB and in close proximity (320m) to the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Special area of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

East Devon AONB
Natural England has considered this application and believes that it has the potential to adversely impact on the natural beauty of the AONB. We therefore request that due consideration be given to the comments submitted by the East Devon AONB team in respect of landscape matters.

East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SAC/SPA/SSSI With regard to potential impacts on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths the main potential impact will be as a result of increased nitrogen deposition on the site affecting the heathland vegetation. Pigs produce high levels of ammonia waste some of which is emitted to air and carried into the surrounding area. We note that the buildings will be fitted with ventilators and, unless these are designed to remove the nitrogenous gases, will emit significant quantities of ammonia to the surrounding land. In addition the waste management plan, required by the EA may show that the slurry is intended to be spread on fields in equally close proximity to the SAC/SPA.

The background levels of nitrogen deposition on the heaths are already in exceedance of the acceptable thresholds for heathland vegetation (the ranges are wet heath 10-25kg/ha/yr, dry heath 10-20kg/ha/yr and the background is approx 20Kg/Ha/Yr). The applicant should provide you with accurate figures for the amount of nitrogenous gases that will be emitted to the atmosphere by the pig farm, details of the slurry disposal sites and how much they might be expected to contribute to atmospheric levels and some modelling of how much of the ammonia emitted might be expected to reach the SAC/SPA given that the application is SSE of the nearest part of the Sac/Spa at Venn Ottery Common and the prevailing winds tend to be from the south.

It is therefore Natural England's opinion that this proposal has the potential to have a significant effect upon the special interests of the SAC/SPA. Therefore the applicant will need to provide EDDC with additional information to enable you to make an 'appropriate assessment' of whether or not this will have an adverse effect on the integrity of the SAC/SPA.

Parish/Town Council

Comment Date: Mon 29 Nov 2010

Members having visited the site confirm their view that it is clearly Industrial development in the Countryside
and has no connection with conventional farming or with the land adjoining the proposed unit thus making its siting in a designated AONB totally inappropriate,and should it be granted approval would completly undermine the concept and value of such designation.

Further information on Application 10/1954/MFUL - Erection of Pig Unit and Meeting of the Parish Council's Planning Committee December 15th 2010 to review following documentation:
o The Parish Councils submission to the EDDC with reasons not to support the above Application and challenge the site area assumptions.
o E-Mail from Councillor K. Potter To James Brown - Senior Development Control Officer, EDDC, dated 10th December 2010 for clarification of the above.
o E-Mail response from James Brown to Councillor. K. Potter dated 14th December 2010 to explain the reasons for not involving the EIA process.
1 The Parish Council was unanimous in its decision to reject the case forwarded in support of the Planning Departments decision not to request an EIA assessment.
Their response acknowledges that their reasoning did not take into account the total area of the proposed development. Had they done so , then their decision would surely have been to the contrary. The Parish Council cannot accept that the existence of the lagoon/slurry pits can simply be ignored in the total equation.
The Parish Council has reviewed the 3 stage Environmental process and their conclusions are set out in bold type at the end of each Stage below:
STAGE 1: Is the proposed development within a category set out in Schedule 2?
STAGE 2: If so, either:
a) Does it exceed the threshold set out for that category in Schedule 2?
Or b) Is it in a 'sensitive area' SSSI, SPA, National Park, AONB, etc?
STAGE 3: If so, is it likely to have a significant effect on the environment by virtue of its nature, size ,location,etc?

In such a controversial case, as this one is, it is in everyone's interest (except possibly that of the Applicant) to involve as many processes as possible since each individual agency only addresses its own area of interest. Any decision to ignore or preclude any process such as the EIA could be viewed as a pre-decision bias.
We request that in the light of the Parish Council's analysis of the EIA Process that the Planning Authority provides a detailed response and carries out their own analysis.

2 An over-riding point that the Parish Council wishes to express is that the Application should , during the Pre-Application phase, have resulted in the Application's withdrawal since it is in violation of the Governmental conditions laid down in PPS7, namely:
Paragraph 21 "The AONB (has) been confirmed by the Government as having the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and countryside and should therefore be given great weight in planning policies and development control decisions in their area." Furthermore, in Paragraph 22 it continues by stating categorically that: "Major developments should not take place in those designated areas, except in exceptional circumstances."
"???Major developments should be demonstrated to be in the public interest before being allowed to proceed."
Clearly the Application has not demonstrated that the enterprise is in the public interest and quite the opposite has been voiced by the general public, the parishioners and the Parish Council.
The Application has clearly evoked a high level of revulsion and if it were approved it would be contrary to the Government's and the EDDC's own policies. Furthermore, as regards the public (the Custodians), it would destroy a significant jewel in the East Devon AONB crown.

Prepared by: Cllr. Richard Swann - Chairman,
On behalf of Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council

The Parish Council is also concerned that the determination by the District Council as to whether an EIA was required was seriously flawed in that it was determined on the strength of a location plan, and an area of 3750m2was assumed. The area shown on the on the applicants plans of buildings,lagoons and yard account for 15000m2 nearly four times the area used for the determination as scaled off by the Parish Council.

The submitted plans were not a precise representation of the findings on the ground by members especially
with respect to Hedgerows and trees. The plans lack information on the contouring of neighbouring land and fail to describe the logistical aspects of removal and desposal of soil, both on the development site and to other sites, during the constructional phase. the quantities of slurry to be transported and frequency of such movements were also not clear.

It is further considered that if consent is granted the following conditions should be considered.

1. The old feed silos should be removed from the existing roadside site.

2. All farm traffic required to use the new access.

3. Noise and lighting limits to set.

4. Pre notification of neighbours prior to any spreading or transport of slurry

Comment Date: Fri 26 Nov 2010

Background to comments and site description
I have visited the location which is situated to the west of Collyhead Farm in a depression that is visible from the road to the north. The proposal is located in a remote and tranquil part of the AONB and is set apart from existing farm infrastructure.

Landscape Character Assessment details

Key Landscape Characteristics of the LCT(s) within which the site is located

o Gently rolling landform, sloping up from valley floor
o Variable size fields with wide, low boundaries and irregular pattern
o Pastoral land use, often with wooded appearance
o Many hedgerow trees, copses and streamside tree rows
o Settled, with varied building ages, styles and settlement size
o Much use of stone as building material
o Winding, often sunken lanes
o Streams and ditches
o Tranquil and intimate

Landscape Management Guidelines

Recommendations relevant to this site/application

Boundaries: conserve by
1. Encouraging appropriate management of low wide hedges at a height of 1-1.5m/ 3-5 feet, to maintain bushy, mixed species character.

Further comments
This is a large stand alone intensive agricultural development proposal with associated access routes and hedge bank removal, situated in a relatively remote and tranquil area within the AONB. The scale and nature of the development is significant given this location and will involve major earth works that will alter the open nature of the existing landscape. Larger than anything in close proximity, the main development site sits within an arable field and represents a substantial development of some 1Ha. The 'general maximum' height of some 6.8m will have a significant impact on the landscape character of this part of the AONB. I assume in places this 'general' height will be exceeded by the silos.

This scale of impact is recognised by the applicants under 6 Landscape Mitigation '- mitigation planting will lessen the visual impact of this development on the landscape'. However, It is recognised that these may take in the region of 7-10yrs to reach effect and therefore this development will have a sizable impact until all the landscaping matures. My main view of the site was from viewpoint 1 where without earthworks and landscaping, the site would be highly prominent; it is hard to judge what the longer term impact will be like once the landscaping has matured. (see attached photo).

Any measures to conserve and enhance the AONB landscape are welcomed, in particular those that would enhance the hedge banks and hedgerow trees. The AONB encourages positive land management that serves to enhance the character of the landscape in support of sustainable farming practice.

East Devon AONB Management Strategy Policy Reference(s)
P2- provide advice and support on planning policy and development to enable the special qualities of the historic and landscape character of the AONB to be protected, conserved and enhanced.

Devon County Archaeologist

Comment Date: Mon 22 Nov 2010

Re: Application No. 10/1954/MFUL
Land West Of Collyhead Farm, Venn Ottery, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1RY - Erection of a pig unit comprising: 3 buildings, slurry store, attenuation pond and access track: Archaeology
My ref: Arch/DM/ED/17556a
I refer to the above application. The proposed development lies in a landscape containing evidence of prehistoric settlement to the north - in the form of an enclosure identified through aerial photography and a findspot of a flint tool - and funerary activity on the hill top to the west, which are protected as Scheduled Monuments (ref: 29632). The groundworks associated with this development are quite extensive and may expose and destroy archaeological and artefactual evidence associated with the known prehistoric activity in the area.
For this reason and in accordance with Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment (PPS5) (2010) I would advise that any consent your Authority may be minded to issue should carry the condition as worded below, based on model Condition 55 as set out in Appendix A of Circular 11/95, whereby:
'No development shall take place until the applicant has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted by the applicant and approved by the Planning Authority.'
The development shall be carried out at all times in strict accordance with the approved scheme, or such other details as may be subsequently agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority.
'To ensure that an appropriate record is made of archaeological evidence that may be affected by the development'
I would envisage a suitable programme of work as taking the form of the archaeological supervision of the topsoil strip - and initial ground reduction if required - to allow for the identification, investigation and recording of any expose archaeological deposits or features. The results of the fieldwork and post-excavation analysis undertaken would be presented in an appropriately detailed and illustrated report.
I will be happy to discuss this further with you, the applicant or their agent. I can provide the applicant with a Brief setting out the scope of the works required, as well as contact details for archaeological contractors who would be able to undertake this work.

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