PETITION: Powys Chicken Sheds – Maps, Graphs and Stats

PETITION: Powys Chicken Sheds – Maps, Graphs and Stats

Please sign our PETITION to the Welsh Assembly to urge the Welsh Government to take action to ensure that the Poultry Product Industry is environmentally sustainable. You’ll find our petition here at the Welsh Assembly website. Thank you.

Petitioning the Assembly is one of the most direct ways in which members of the public can raise matters of concern or suggest new policies and different ways of doing things. If we can collect 5,000 signatures or more, the Petitions Committee will automatically consider requesting a plenary debate – where all 60 Assembly Members will be able to discuss the issue.

Introduction
CPRW’s Brecon & Radnor and Montgomery Branches are increasingly concerned, as are other local environmental NGOs, at the proliferation of intensive poultry units (IPUs) across Powys. The rapid development of this industry in the county in recent years is illustrated in the animated map below. The date of each annual “snapshot” is shown in the lower right corner.

20171108 Applications Legend v1.1 20171230

20171108 Application Animation v1.1 20171230
Powys Chicken Shed Applications by Year – Animation

The following map shows both the In Planning and Consented Applications that we are aware of as at 8 November 2017. It is based on the same data as our interactive map on this page (although that interactive map contains slightly more up-to-date data). We have collated all data on applications since July 2015. During this time applications for a further 99 poultry units have been submitted, only one of which has been refused. Approval of all these applications (up to end 2017) would bring the total number of chickens applied for in Powys to 7 million. See our detailed applications spreadsheet here.

Spreadsheet Summary Graphic
Chicken Shed Applications in Powys 2015-2017: Summary

20171108 Applications v1.1 20171230

At the end of 2017 around 7 million birds are housed at any one time in IPUs on nearly 200 farms* and new planning applications for IPUs are received on an almost weekly basis. Powys, together with neighbouring English counties, has one of the highest densities of IPUs in Europe. The following graphs illustrate a) the total number of chickens on applications is increasing year on year, and b) the cumulative totals of chickens year on year is rising at an increasing rate.  (*These figures include some IPUs still in the planning system and awaiting determination.)

20171108 Chart_TotalChickensByYear v1.1

20171108 Chart_CumulativeTotal v1.1

Principal Environmental Considerations
In recognition of the huge potential for pollution and other environmental impacts, the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 places IPUs housing more than 85,000 broilers or 60,000 hens in the same category of development as oil refineries and airports. All developments housing over 40,000 birds require an environmental permit from Natural Resources Wales (NRW). Unfortunately, impacts are not restricted to the larger developments.

In 2015 NRW published the Powys Poultry Pilot Study (which will shortly be available as a link to the NRW website). This study highlights the potential for smaller unregulated free range egg units to have a greater environmental impact than larger regulated intensive units, and emphasises the need for very careful assessment of impacts of planning proposals before further planning permissions are given.

In spite of this, intensive poultry developments are classified as ‘farm diversification’ and are permitted in open countryside where their impacts are potentially greatest.

The map below illustrates the areas of greatest concentrations of intensively-raised poultry across Powys and their proximity to Powys’ towns, villages and hamlets.

20171108 Unique Farms Heatmap (5KM) Settlements v1.1 20171230

Landscape
IPU sheds are typically around 100m long by 20m wide and, with accompanying hard standing, silos and supporting infrastructure, are hard to assimilate into intricate and small scale landscapes. We consider that this is given inadequate consideration in the determination of applications. The county’s landscapes underpin the tourist industry, which is of vital economic importance.

Air Quality
IPUs emit ammonia and poultry dust, and generate large amounts of traffic on otherwise quiet rural roads.

Ammonia deposition significantly contributes to the nitrogen enrichment of our ecosystems, fatal to many of our rarer plants. The urgency of tackling this “elephant in the room of nature conservation” is set out in Plantlife’s recent publication “We Need To Talk About Nitrogen”.

In recognition of this significant pollution source and the risks posed by the poultry industry, NRW have recently published two documents:

  • Operational Guidance Note Ref. no. 41 concerns the assessment of ammonia and nitrogen impacts and explains the reduction (effective 1 April 2017) of thresholds of acceptability for emissions from poultry units impacting designated nature sites. The new thresholds are substantially below those operating in England.
  • Quick Guide 9 ‘Poultry units: planning permission and environmental assessment’ provides a checklist of minimum information required to support a planning application and further information on management plans, design etc.

Poultry dust is categorised as a “substance hazardous to human health” by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and is linked with respiratory complaints and with potential for permanent lung damage – see the HSE’s “Quick Guide to Poultry Dust”.

Traffic
IPUs create significant extra traffic associated with egg and bird collection, deliveries of birds, feed deliveries, cleaning, daily visits to monitor birds and collect carcases, manure removal and general management of the site. The number, size and weight of vehicles may be unsuitable for small country roads, creating safety and amenity issues for other road users and residents.

Water Quality
Poultry manure has the highest concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium of all animal manures. Clearly a valuable fertiliser, poultry manure is also a potent pollution risk if inappropriately stored, spread, or transported. Water contamination may also arise as a result of run off from outdoor ranges and hardstanding, shed washing, soil erosion and contaminated waters from shed roofs.

The growth in the industry has coincided with a rise in phosphate levels in several of the county’s rivers, including the Wye, Lugg and Ithon.

Farm Diversification
We clearly understand the need for farm diversification, and appreciate that small family farms are currently facing great uncertainty, exacerbated by Brexit. However, IPUs pose a very real threat to the county’s landscapes, ecosystems and to the tourist industry. We will continue to campaign for appropriate support to be offered to farmers to ensure the future of the county’s small farms.

Our data demonstrates that there is a steadily increasing rate of applications being received and approved. The cumulative impacts of the scale of development already in place have received no proper analysis and need urgent investigation, in accordance with Environment (Wales) Act 2016 Part 1 Section 4 Principles of Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, particularly subsection (e).

Data Source
Data is extracted from Powys Planning Portal Weekly Application Lists which have been tracked since 2011. IPUs before this date may not appear on the map, and developments which remain unbuilt or have been discontinued may still be shown on the map. We have prepared these maps and statistics in good faith. Please notify us of any errors or omissions.

Please sign our PETITION to the Welsh Assembly to urge the Welsh Government to take action to ensure that the Poultry Product Industry is environmentally sustainable. You’ll find our petition here at the Welsh Assembly website. Thank you.

Petitioning the Assembly is one of the most direct ways in which members of the public can raise matters of concern or suggest new policies and different ways of doing things. If we can collect 5,000 signatures or more, the Petitions Committee will automatically consider requesting a plenary debate – where all 60 Assembly Members will be able to discuss the issue.