CONCERNS were raised by councillors that a planning application for 112,000 broiler chickens near Newtown was in front of the Planning committee for discussion before a consultation on it had ended.
At the Powys County Council Planning committee meeting on Thursday, February 2 councillors debated an application by Gwyn Jones to build two poultry units that accommodate 56,000 chickens each and all the associated works at Upper Maenllwyd.
The site is situated just off the B4368 road between the villages of Kerry and Abermule.
Councillors were told by planning officer, Louise Evans that manure from the units would be taken to an anaerobic digester in Shropshire to be processed, and she advised approving the scheme.
As a consultation on the proposal will run until February 20, councillors could not make a decision and only recommend how the plans should be decided.
The ultimate decision has been delegated to the planning professional lead, Peter Morris along with the Planning committee chairman, Cllr Karl Lewis and vice-chairman Cllr Gareth D Jones.
Cllr Corinna Kenyon-Wade said that she was “surprised” that the committee were dealing with the application before the consultation had finished.
Planning officer, Louise Evans said “I’ve been the case officer dealing with the planning application up until this point, I actually won’t be available to bring this to committee at a later date.
“It was felt that as the case officer, I’ll be able to provide more details to members on any queries.”
Cllr Gwynfor Thomas said: “I am uncomfortable that we are actually dealing with this application before the consultation is concluded.
“Some information may come out of that which may be relevant for the committee and it’s disregarding the governance of this committee by going to delegation.”
Cllr Angela Davies said: “It just seems the wrong way round.”
Committee chairman, Cllr Karl Lewis told councillors that Ms Evans was leaving Powys for a job at another authority.
Planning professional lead, Peter Morris told councillors that despite the consultation he didn’t believe there were “any matters” of concern that remained for planning officers to address
“We have to let that consultation period end before we make the determination so I’m happy as we are at the moment,” said Mr Morris.
Cllr Geoff Morgan said: “It looks like all the boxes been ticked.”
“They’ve done all they can, and the professionals are happy with it so I’m ready to approve it.”
Earlier in the meeting, objector John Rowlands had argued that there are issues of land contamination at the site and that the nearby river Mule which flows into the river Severn could be polluted.
“Building on this site which floods is a recipe for disaster,” said Mr Rowlands
Planning agent Richard Corbett told the committee that the application had been “six years in the making” with the applicant originally intending the units for a site further up the valley.
“The proposal will create two new jobs, and will also sustain others in the family business,” said Mr Corbett.
The application was recommended for approval – with 12 councillors voting in favour, and two abstaining.