ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are calling for more measures to control the spread of poultry units across Herefordshire.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England estimated in 2019 that there were 500 intensive poultry farms containing 44 million birds across Herefordshire, Powys and Shropshire.

Herefordshire does not have any strategic planning policy to control the locations of poultry units and CPRE says this leads to concentrations of units.

And they say the rivers Wye and Lugg are suffering the consequences of phosphate and nitrate pollution as a result of this.

They want a specific policy for poultry units to be included in the review of Herefordshire Council’s core strategy.

Local CPRE branch chairman Bob Widdowson said they have been raising concerns over the “apparent uncontrolled spread” of poultry units for years.

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“Herefordshire comes near the top of the league for the number of units. Aside from their visual impact they can degrade the environment and bring distress to people living close to them.

“These are industrial units that limited planning rules enable to be sited in open countryside, not subject to business rates and employing few people. Stricter rules governing where they are sited are urgently needed.”

Hereford Times:

But National Farmers’ Union environment and rural affairs adviser Sarah Faulkner said much is often made of the environmental impact of poultry units but larger chicken farms are regulated by the Environment Agency.

“Newly built sites in Herefordshire are able to implement the latest technology in terms of heating, ventilation, insulation, controls and feeding all of which make poultry farming a truly modern and efficient industry operating to high standards and all with a low carbon foot print,” she said.

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“All applications are comprehensive and considered and such sites create local employment and contribute to retaining jobs in areas where employment and opportunities are vitally important.

“Local agricultural businesses also benefit from new developments as well as other agricultural contractors and suppliers.

“Manure from poultry sites, which is a valuable source of organic matter and plant nutrients also reduce our reliance on manufactured fertilisers.”

Hereford Times:

Oliver Cartwright, NFU regional spokesman, said people should remember that the countryside is a working landscape.

“Our farmers are food producers but also take their environmental responsibilities seriously,” he said.

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“British poultry meat is healthy, versatile and affordable and is the most popular meat consumed in the UK, there is great demand for it.

“Herefordshire farms give retailers a guarantee of traceability and high welfare standards, often through the Red Tractor assured food standard mark.

“Growth in the market is forecast to continue and new modern poultry units enable farmers to expand the production of fresh poultry meat for the UK market, stave off our reliance on foreign imports and benefit the rural economy.”