Concerns raised following bid to build free range egg unit

Free range chickens in Norfolk. Photo Simon Finlay

Free range chickens in Norfolk. Photo Simon Finlay

Villagers have raised concerns over a bid to build an organic free range egg production unit for thousands of hens.

An application has been submitted on behalf of Free Range Chicken Ltd to build the 12,000 hen unit on Thompson Road in Griston, near Watton.

Although located in Griston, Caston Parish Council has said the impact of the application is 'significantly greater' in its village.

With the site within 400m of residential properties and Caston Primary School, the council has raised a number of issues, including ones relating to odours, airborne diseases and traffic.

The council said: 'The proposed site is in very close proximity to the local school and there is significant concern that pupils and teachers may thus be susceptible to airborne diseases.

'Further, obnoxious odour from the facility may prevent the use of the outside recreation areas.

'Additional HGV traffic from the facility passing the school will create additional health and safety risks to the pupils, particularly at arrival and departure times.'

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Caston resident Sue Morgan, along with a number of villagers, submitted her 'firm objection' to the Breckland Council planning site.

She said: 'Caston roads are not set up for large lorries continually going through the village.

'With the development opposite the school, I believe it's already putting children at risk due to the increase in traffic.

'We simply cannot cope with anymore.'

The proposed unit, which would have a floor area of 2,224msq, is adjacent to an existing farmyard used as an agricultural biosecurity unit.

Some residents have expressed concern over the welfare of the hens and issues with rodents.

The report states the unit is 'undertaken in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner' and that the chickens 'roam over the large area of grassland'.

The birds would be secured in the building between dusk and dawn, to prevent problems with foxes or feral cats. The unit would also be professionally baited and regularly checked for rodents.

Free Range Chicken Ltd have been approached for comment.

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