A controversial chicken farm near Burnham-On-Sea is being forced to further reduce the number of birds it houses in a bid to reduce the problems of pungent smells for nearby residents.

jlastrasResidents living near Newbridge Farm in New Road, East Huntspill, have this week welcomed the news from the Environment Agency that it is asking the owner of the farm, Hook 2 Sisters, to reduce its number of chickens.

“Our determination and persistence is paying off,” say residents as they vow to keep up their campaign against the farm.

Burnham-On-Sea.com reported last year that the Environment Agency had asked the owners of the farm to reduce its number of birds from 312,500 to 192,000 – and now the agency is requesting a further reduction to around 133,500.

Campaigner Ian Stanbury said: “Until such time that the operator and site owner have to invest significant amounts of money to install filters and/or scrubbers to reduce the odour, the Environment Agency is getting them to reduce bird numbers to a point where the odour is deemed to be at an ‘acceptable level’.”

“This means that for the next crop cycle, only three sheds will be stocked. If we assume the same number of birds per shed as the current level, that would bring the total down to a maximum of around 133,500 birds – a reduction of over 57% from the original number permitted (312,500).”

“It means the stock levels will now be below those of the original wooden sheds that were replaced by the ‘state of the art’ buildings, which must have been extremely costly.”

“We’re really pleased that the Environment Agency is continuing to take the odour problem seriously. It now appears to have a planned approach for taking the operator to task until the problem is somehow eliminated or becomes negligible and ceases to have an adverse impact on locals’ lives.”
“We are hopeful that for the first time in three years, we will be able to enjoy the spring and summer in our own garden without being stunk out; and hope also that local tourist dependent businesses will see a turnaround in their fortunes.”
“This action is in no small part due to the persistence of locals complaining about the odour to the Environment Agency’s incident hotline for over two years. Our campaign has provided a focus on this issue and we very much appreciate the support of people in the area and beyond. However, we cannot be complacent and will continue to put pressure on the authorities to take the action necessary to protect people’s well-being, health and livelihoods.”
“There’s still the issue over the visual impact of the site but that’s a breach of planning permission, the fallout from which continues to rumble on and on which we are keeping a wary eye.”

He added: “If the problem continues, the EA will get the operator to stock only two sheds in the following cycle (89,000 birds). If there is still a problem, then only one shed will be stocked.”

“At some point, it will become uneconomical for Hook 2 Sisters to operate, which is when they stop or get their sister company, Amber Real Estate Investments, to install filters and/or scrubbers. That would then bring them back into the planning regime.”

“So, if we are to stand any chance of winning the battle to eliminate the odour or reduce it to negligible levels, we must continue reporting the odour as accurately and as timely as possible. We know it’s a chore to make the call on 0800 80 70 60, but please don’t leave it to your neighbour – the wind direction might not be affecting them.”

“Our determination and persistence are paying off so thank you; and please don’t give up – it might not seem like it at times but we are making progress.”

petition to urge Sedgemoor District Council to close down the controversial industrial chicken farm was launched last year and has been signed by over 2,300 local people.