LETTER: Bleasby Moor - Planners not followed rules

New Evidence reported in a paper published by Oxford University Press for The Infectious Diseases Society of America proves that Avian Flu has been spread on the wind from an outbreak on a poultry unit infecting humans (one death) and other poultry units; this obviously also applies to other pathogens.

Under current legislation a farmer is allowed to erect, extend or alter a building of 465 square metre or less in size situated within 400 metres of dwelling house which is not part of a farm (a protected building) only on condition that he/she does not use it for the accommodation any of livestock; anything bigger than 465 square metres requires planning permission to be obtained from the local authority. The wording of the legislation makes it clear that the concern is for the prevention of nuisance and the health and safety of the occupants of the dwelling house.

Intensive Livestock Units are very large developments very much in excess of the 465 square metre limit.

West Lindsey’s Planning Committee has a policy in place for the erection, extension or alteration of these extremely large Intensive Livestock Units (Policy ECON 5) which states that they will be permitted provided that they “are located not less than 400 metres from a building occupied by people, which is not directly and functionally related to the enterprise. The final distance will be determined by other factors which will be taken into account such as prevailing winds”.

West Lindsey justifies this policy by stating “a distance of at least 400 metres between ILUs and the majority of other buildings has been retained, as a standard suggested by Central Government. This cordon will minimise the level of contact that the public, and particularly local residents, will have with agricultural operation, reducing unpleasant odours and other forms of pollution that emanate from such ILUs”.

Yet when a developer applies for permission to build huge sheds to house hundreds of thousands of Broiler Poultry at distances less than 400 metres from dwelling houses the district council’s planning officers fall over themselves to allow the developer’s application and they recommend that the planning committee members allow such applications, the planning officers are regarded as the “experts” and the committee follows their recommendations.

Intensive broiler units have been built all over West Lindsey regardless of the minimum distance prescribed in the legislation and West Lindsey’s planning policy. One such development over the last five years took place at Scothern, and the stench and noise makes life unbearable for the local residents.

Another application for development of an intensive broiler unit next to the village of Bleasby Moor is due to be placed before committee on 6th March, 95 per cent of the houses in Bleasby Moor are between 140 metres and 400 metres of the site and the prevailing wind passes directly over the site into Bleasby Moor.

The health implications of the proximity of intensive livestock units have not been taken into consideration, in particular the spread of infection from these units. Environmental health were consulted by the planners but at the time of the consultation the new information regarding the confirmed spread of pathogens had not been published.

Numerous papers have been written about the dangers posed by the dust, toxins and diseases expelled by the extractor fans on the sheds.

A recent paper published by the Institute for Animal Hygiene and Animal Welfare of the School of Veterinary Medicine, Hanover, highlighted the fact that the highest bacteria concentrations were detected in broiler houses. The paper, funded by the Commission of the European Union under Project No PL900703, cites many authorities including British authorities and concludes “For licensing new animal farms as well as residential areas in the farming environment more precise information on the travel distance of harmful particles and compounds are required”.

Numerous other papers concerning the risk to human health from Intensive Livestock Units, Including poultry Broiler units, are in the public domain.

New information is now available; an article in the New Scientist of 15th January 2013, informs that the pathogen Avian Flu has been proven to have been spread by the wind over distances of several kilometres from a single source poultry unit to other poultry farms in an outbreak which infected 89 humans one of whom died.

The fact that Avian Flu has been proven to have been transmitted by the wind over such great distances demonstrates that all and any pathogens and other particulates can also be transmitted over similar ranges.

These papers reveal that there is a very real risk to the lives and health of the residents of Bleasby Moor, 95% per cent of who live within West Lindsey’s 400 metre minimum distance of the development with the prevailing wind blowing directly over the site and into their homes. The majority of those residents have written to the council objecting to the development. Papers show that the newer units are those which pose greatest risk due the higher numbers of livestock and therefore greater emissions.

We think it essential that before West Lindsey makes a decision on the application for the development adjacent to the village of Bleasby Moor they must ensure that a full and proper study of the health implications is carried out and seek expert advice at the highest level.

As West Lindsey has now been made aware of the above study they should understand that if they approve this planning application that they will be responsible, both morally and in law, for permitting any associated health conditions caused by the emissions from the intensive livestock units.

Michael and Shirley Howe,

Rowan House, Bleasby Moor,