Support from MPs for Cluck Off group fighting plans for Rushden ‘chicken factory’

Members of the Cluck Off campaign group with Cllr Helen Harrison and MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone
Members of the Cluck Off campaign group with Cllr Helen Harrison and MPs Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone

Two MPs are strongly backing the fight against plans to build a poultry farm with the capacity for up to 540,000 birds in Rushden.

Bedfordia Farms Ltd has applied to build 10 poultry buildings and associated infrastructure on land north east of the Westwood AD Plant in Bedford Road, Rushden.

Peter Bone MP is backing the Cluck Off campaign against plans for a 'chicken factory' in Rushden

Peter Bone MP is backing the Cluck Off campaign against plans for a 'chicken factory' in Rushden

But the plans have been met with huge opposition, including from MPs Peter Bone and Tom Pursglove who met members of the Cluck Off group which is fighting the plans today (Wednesday).

To demonstrate one of their many reasons for objecting to the proposed site, they filled a cage with 22 ‘chickens’ to show the conditions they say the 540,000 birds will suffer if the proposed American style chicken farm goes ahead.

Mr Bone said: “This chicken farm or should I say chicken factory is totally unacceptable, the Government has said that it is against this type of American style factory farming.

“When people see the conditions the chickens are expected to survive in, they will be appalled.

“I am supporting the Cluck Off campaign and I will do everything in my power to stop this cruel and unnecessary development.”

Mr Bone has already presented a petition with 6,000 names against the plans and raised the issue in Parliament.

He even brought it to the attention of the Prime Minister recently, with Theresa May wishing them good luck with the campaign.

Mr Bone believes the application should be thrown out and said this campaign has been one of the largest he has seen in recent years.

The MP said: “I hope by demonstrating this, the councillors will understand the strength of feeling that people have.

“It’s huge and we went out knocking on doors yesterday and I would say that at every other door people mentioned it.

“The chicken farm will completely change the area and it is wrong.”

While the proposed site is not in Mr Pursglove’s constituency, he has also spoken to people in East Northants who are strongly against the plans, including those worried about the scale of it.

He said: “It’s multiple times the size of Rushden Lakes, it’s enormous.

“These are huge sheds.”

Mr Pursglove said the Cluck Off campaign had really captured people’s imagination and added: “It’s brilliant that people are coming out in support of this.”

Cllr Helen Harrison, who is a member of East Northants Council but not on the planning committee which will consider the application, said: “I grew up in the country on a small farm and I know how animals should be bred and reared.

“I have seen contented, well looked after animals being bred for food and to sell, but something like this goes completely against the grain.

“The idea of animals being cooped together in such confinement that they can’t move, are defecating where they stand and the idea that they resort to eating each other, it is so stomach churningly disgusting that I don’t know how any well-meaning person could permit it.”

Roger Barnes from the Cluck Off group thanked Peter and Tom for their support, and added: “It’s nice to know that the MPs are supporting us and quite rightly so.”

The planning application by Bedfordia is likely to be considered by East Northants Council at a meeting later this month.

To read more about the plans, click here