Lincolnshire broiler grower Michael Annakin of Annakin Farms has won the right to build five 40,000-bird sheds plus associated facilities at Mapleton Farm, Horsington.

The decision was reached after a four-year battle (see May and June issues of Poultry World) with local protesters and the East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) plus an eight-day hearing. 

In overturning a refusal by ELDC, planning inspector Philip Asquith concluded that the appellant’s evidence on odour emissions – the main bone of contention – was sufficiently robust to provide a realistic assessment that the local residents would not be adversely affected.  The council had taken no account of the impact that thinning at around day 36 and 4% bird mortality would have on odour levels, he said.

Mr Annakin described himself as “very pleased” at the outcome of a dispute that started in September 2003 and ended last month with the help of Acorus Rural Property Services.

He paid tribute to his team and the “clear, concise and professional manner in which they had presented the facts.”  He would not be drawn on a date on which the work would start at Mapleton Farm beyond promising that it would be within the next five years.

Ian Trousedale, East Lindsey deputy head of planning, said the case had always been finely balanced and the council – which had put in a lot of effort – was disappointed.  The judgement was being studied and a decision on the next move would be reached within the next few days. 

“Totally stunned,” was the verdict of planning expert Don Proctor, representing a residents’ group, which was also deciding what to do next.

“How could the inspector say that 200,000 chickens would create no more smells than normal livestock activity?  How could he approve of development that will send an extra 900 lorries a year thundering by their houses?  It is not an appropriate site to put so close to dwellings,” he claimed.