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Do count your chickens and their waste arisings

A recent case involving an intensive poultry unit has been the subject of consideration by the Court of Appeal.

The case involved the interaction of an environmental permit issued by the Environment Agency in respect of the facility and the approach of the Local Authority to the scope of an Environmental Impact Assessment which was submitted with the planning application. 

The case was brought by interested local people who considered that the Council had not fully considered the impact and interaction of the Environmental Permit and the Environmental Impact Assessment, and that, as a consequence the Environmental Impact Assessment was unlawful and the decision should be quashed.  

The circumstances for the case were that due to the size of the facility the operation of the facility required an Environmental Permit to enable it to operate on the site.

The applicant for planning permission applied for and obtained a permit for the operation of the site.  The Environment Agency made it clear in correspondence and in the permit that the permit merely covered the operation of the facility on site and not further or otherwise. 

The key issue in this situation was the fact that all the waste arisings from the broiler houses would be collected and then used as fertiliser either on the applicant’s land, or used on other adjoining land in the vicinity of the nearby village.

In the report to the Planning Committee, the Case Officer advised of the nature of the Environmental Permit that was to be granted but did not make it clear to members that the collection and spreading of waste arisings as a result of the operation were not covered by the permit. 

As a consequence the Court decided that the Council in assessing the nature and scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment should, as part of that assessment, have had regard to the operation of the facility taking into account the potential effect in terms of smell, odour and dust of the application of the chicken manure – both on land within the control of the applicant, and land outside his control that potentially could have had an impact on local residents. 

As there was no effective demonstration that this had been considered by the Council in the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment and it had, in effect, fell between the two regimes, the Court ordered that the permission should be quashed. 

Comment : The case serves as a ready reminder that there is a need to ensure that where there are adjacent regimes, namely environmental permitting and the grant of planning permission, care should be taken to ensure that whilst there is not overlap that all issues arising from the grant of the permit are catered for either in the permit or by due consideration by the Local Planning Authority often through an Environmental Impact Assessment. The consequences can be far reaching and introduce significant delays into a project timetable.

For any more information please contact Gareth Pinwell from our Planning team on g.pinwell@ashfords.co.uk

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