Campaigners ready for round two over plans for Rushden chicken farm

Members of the Cluck Off group with MP Peter Bone earlier this year
Members of the Cluck Off group with MP Peter Bone earlier this year

Campaigners against plans for a chicken farm near Rushden are gearing up for round two after a new application was submitted.

The Northants Telegraph recently reported that proposals for a chicken farm near Rushden which attracted huge levels of opposition had been revised and resubmitted.

Bedfordia Farms Ltd wanted to build 10 poultry buildings and associated infrastructure on land north east of Westwood Anaerobic Digestion Plant in Bedford Road, Rushden.

But their proposals led to objections from individuals and groups including the Cluck Off campaign group, MPs Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Campaigners were delighted when the application was withdrawn in February, but Bedfordia Farms has since submitted revised plans for construction and operation of a broiler rearing unit with six linked poultry buildings on the same site.

The broiler unit is designed to raise 314,000 birds every 49 day cycle, equating to 2,339,000 birds per year.

Chicks would be introduced to the poultry houses when a day old and would be reared for approximately 38 days under ‘controlled and monitored conditions’.

Despite the new plans, Roger Barnes from the Cluck Off group said they are prepared to fight them for a second time and will continue to work with MP Peter Bone on it.

He said: “We are going to get our act together.

“Cluck Off will be started off again for round two.”

Campaigners are opposing the plans for numerous reasons, including the potential smell, fears the development will devalue their properties and animal welfare issues.

Mr Bone, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, wrote to Lord Gardiner of Kimber about the application on behalf of Mr Barnes.

Responding as the minister responsible for animal welfare issues, his letter said: “The Government is taking positive action on animal welfare and ensuring the UK continues to lead the way globally on applying high welfare standards.

“Our policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals - whether on farms or in the wild.

“Our priority is to support British farming and encourage sustainable food production to ensure we have a secure, environmentally sustainable and healthy supply of food with improved standards of animal welfare.

“A thriving and resilient British livestock sector is clearly important and we are firmly committed to maintaining our world-leading animal welfare standards and improving them where appropriate.”

Lord Gardiner’s letter also said that where welfare regulations are breached, appropriate action is taken.

For more details on the revised plans, search for 18/01284/FUL on the planning page of the council’s website.