Yorkshire Dales river pollution threat averted as industrial poultry plans rejected on appeal

9th October 2023

Planning permission for large-scale free range egg production covering 60 hectares in Hambleton, North Yorkshire has been refused on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.  Fish Legal objected to the 128,000-bird proposal at Thornton le Beans near Northallerton on behalf of the Knayton Angling Club, lodging written submissions to the appeal highlighting that developers had not considered the phosphate pollution threat to the nearby Cod Beck and the River Swale.

In a decision published on 16 August 2023 the Planning Inspector cited significant evidence from the Parish Council and local fishing groups around the effects of phosphates on water quality in arriving at his decision not to allow the development to proceed.  

While the developers had focused on the effect of nitrates on water quality, Fish Legal raised specific concerns about the potential impact on nearby river health and brown trout, grayling and river lamprey populations from surface water run-off heavily loaded with phosphate from poultry manure. 

Hambleton District Council previously refused the planning application on 31 October 2022.

John Rodmell, Treasurer and Membership Secretary of Knayton Angling Club. who hold fishing rights to part of the Codbeck, said:

“We’re pleased that the Planning Inspector has upheld Hambleton District Council decision to refuse this application.  Local anglers were extremely concerned that if this proposal got the go-ahead, we’d see water quality in the Cod Beck decline.  It’s heartening to see the community pull together to challenge what was clearly a poorly thought-through application.  We hope that this will be an end of the matter.”

Fish Legal Solicitor, Justin Neal, said:

“It is with some relief that we see a Planning Inspector taking the risks of water pollution seriously. In particular, he says that it isn’t enough to simply rely on the existence of a regulatory regime to make sure that manure isn’t going to pollute nearby rivers given that the Environment Agency don’t really seem to give much thought to what happens to manure or to even bother to check.”

He added:

“Phosphate pollution from industrial-scale poultry units has been linked elsewhere in the country to poor water quality and algal blooms, notably on the River Wye.  We don’t want to see rivers in Yorkshire suffer the same fate.”

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