A long-awaited decision on a plan to expand a Herefordshire chicken farm has finally gone against it.

Dave Pursey had sought permission for three new grey metal sheds totalling 6,700 square metres in area, housing an additional 120,000 broiler chickens at a time, along with a feed bins, worker’s building, new yard and access, at Trevase Farm, St Owens Cross west of Ross-on-Wye.

The expansion would “meet growth demand from Avara Foods at its Hereford plant”, the application said.

The farm has already operated four chicken sheds for 20 years, and has an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant which would take most of the manure from the new units.

“The remainder will be exported off-site to be used as fertiliser on third-party agricultural land,” the farm’s application said.


The proposal, first lodged in August 2018, has drawn nearly 200 objections. Llanwarne and District group parish council objected on four separate occasions during the prolonged consultation and revision process, over noise, air quality and traffic concerns.

Following reports from specialist officers, planning officer Rebecca Jenman did not regard the potential noise, smell and traffic from the farm’s expansion  as strong enough reasons to reject the plan.

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Instead, she refused the bid entirely on environmental grounds.

The proposal “would contribute and support food production and security”, and would “assist in maintaining the farm as a successful family business”, she said.

“However, these benefits do not outweigh the potential ecological and biodiversity concern identified.”

The site lies within the catchment of the River Wye and Wye Valley Woodlands special areas of conservation (SACs), while other designated conservation sites lie within 10km, meaning extensive assessments on the impact on these were required with the bid.


Ms Jenman was concerned about the manure in particular, which has been a major concern arising from the expansion on poultry farming in the Wye catchment and the river’s subsequent ecological decline.

“It is not possible to conclude that the development does not result in increased manure being spread in the catchment, and it is therefore not possible to conclude that there will not be an adverse impact upon the River Wye SAC,” she wrote.

“Furthermore, it is not clear where the phosphate-rich digestate and other products from the AD plant which will receive a proportion of the litter from these poultry units will be spread.”

Natural England “has confirmed that they agree with the council’s conclusions”, Ms Jenman added.

An estimated 20 million chickens are already farmed in the Wye catchment.

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