Over recent years CPRW Brecon & Radnor Branch has grown increasingly concerned at the rapid proliferation of Intensive Poultry Units across Powys, and the failure of Powys Planning Officers to take full and consistent account of the impacts of these developments on rural communities and the environment in the determination of planning applications. We have discussed our concerns with local politicians, Powys Council and Natural Resources Wales.
In April 2017 Natural Resources Wales introduced some important changes intended to limit environmental damage to designated nature sites such as Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Special Scientific Interest from ammonia emissions, but we have still not yet seen adequate consideration of landscape, environmental and amenity impacts in the determination of applications. For this reason, we took the decision to petition the Welsh Assembly to take long-term strategic action to ensure that the poultry product industry is environmentally sustainable, in line with commitments in the Government’s recent flagship legislation to ‘sustainable development’, the ‘sustainable development of natural resources’ and the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity and resilient ecosystems.
We very much welcomed the help and support, both drafting the petition and collecting signatures, of a number of environmental NGOs. These included the Wildlife Trusts, in particular the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust, Plantlife, the Woodland Trust, Countryside Restoration Trust, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries, the Angling Trust/Fish Legal among others, as well as a number of high-profile environmental campaigners. On 22nd May, our petition was handed in to the Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee, having attracted 4,567 signatures, mostly from Wales and neighbouring English border counties.
The petition has been mentioned in the local press, on radio and online and has focussed some much needed political attention on the urgent problems surrounding these developments. To see how the debate is evolving, please see the following links:
- 30th April: Letter from Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary, to David Rowlands, Chair of the Petitions Committee;
- 30th May: CPRW B&R to David Rowlands, petition evidence provided in response to Lesley Griffiths letter of 30 April;
- 5th June: Senedd TV Petitions Committee debate and minutes of the debate;
- 12th June: Letter from Welsh Government’s Chief Planning Officer to County Council Heads of Planning.
The Chief Planning Officer’s letter sets out the need to ‘exercise particular care’ when considering applications close to sensitive environmental areas or to homes and schools, and also the need to consider cumulative impacts. While this is most welcome, the letter addresses the range of problems associated with these applications only in very general terms. It remains to be seen whether it has an impact on planning decisions.
During the continued consideration of our petition, we hope to see:
- Acknowledgement of the multiple failures in the determination of these applications;
- Stricter control of impacts on the non-designated natural environment, including ancient woodland;
- Clear guidance on the division of responsibility between NRW and determining LPAs;
- NRW acting up to its responsibility to reverse the decline in biodiversity by maintaining objections where negative impacts are likely;
- An end to reliance on conditions which LPAs have no realistic means of effectively enforcing;
- Development of guidance on human health issues including proximity to residents;
- A biosecurity policy for minimum separation of intensive poultry developments according to type;
- Clear guidance on how LPA decision-making must address cumulative impacts of multiple intensive livestock units on the natural environment and residential amenity;
- Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales address the issue of the lack of effective regulation of intensive poultry units for fewer than 40 thousand birds;
- Development of effective regulation to address diffuse agricultural pollution, along the lines of that in place in England and Scotland;
- Funding of research to improve the evidence base for assessing the true environmental impacts of intensive livestock farming;
- A moratorium on approval of applications to allow assessment of the cumulative environmental impacts of IPUs already existing – see Wales Environment Link position statement.
We will be continuing to campaign on this issue!