Northumberland County Council leader gets approval for egg unit

The location of the proposed egg unit at Westcotes Farm. Picture from Google
The location of the proposed egg unit at Westcotes Farm. Picture from Google

The leader of Northumberland County Council has been given the go-ahead for a large barn for hens on one of his farms near Ponteland.

Coun Peter Jackson was granted planning permission to build a free-range egg production unit on land at Westcotes Farm, Milbourne, at Tuesday’s (March 5) meeting of the authority’s strategic planning committee.

Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson

Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson

The green steel portal-framed building, measuring 120 metres by 24.5 metres with a ridge height of seven metres, would house 32,000 birds and an egg-packing unit.

The building would be located to the northern end of a field close to the existing steading, which consists of other farm buildings and the farmhouse. The field around the building would be used for the free-range chickens to roam.

In addition, a turning area is proposed for the eastern side of the site which will be accessed through the steading.

Agent Jo Evans explained that the scheme was ‘important for the applicant because it will allow them to future-proof their business’, adding that the building had been located to fit with the nearby steading and the topography of the site.

In response to a question from Coun Jeff Reid, it was confirmed that the only reason the application had to be decided by the committee was because it was submitted by a county councillor.

It was recommended for approval by planning officers and members therefore went on to back it unanimously, although they did ask several questions in relation to traffic and impacts from the likes of manure.

Nonetheless, there had been an objection from Ponteland Civic Society, whose response highlighted that ‘a unit this size would produce considerable quantities of chicken manure’ and there are no details as to how this would be managed.

It was clarified that there is a condition attached to the approval which requires manure handling details to be provided before the site is brought into use.

Ponteland Town Council originally had concerns in relation to ecology and archaeology, but the relevant reports were submitted and the county ecologist and archaeologist had no objections.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service