End the harm from Newbridge Farm’s industrial poultry units

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End the harm from a factory 'farm'.

Newbridge Farm is an industrial broiler chicken factory, operated by Hook 2 Sisters, that has the potential to rear 2,500,000 birds per year for the food industry and is regulated by the Environment Agency under a Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC) Environmental Permit. As far as the local population is concerned it is a planning, pollution control and animal welfare disaster that is making our lives a misery and has blighted our part of the lovely Somerset countryside since it was redeveloped in 2016. We now need the Environment Agency to take decisive action and suspend or revoke Hook 2 Sisters’ Environmental Permit.

Why? What are the impacts on our lives? The unfiltered odour from the ammonia and faeces that the poor factory-reared, growth-accelerated chickens live in that builds up over every six-week ‘crop cycle’ is causing significantly harmful impacts on the residents and tourist-dependent businesses in the surrounding area. There are also potential health risks from the emissions of bio-aerosols such as E-coli, salmonella, campylobacter, dust and fungi. For four weeks or more of each cycle, we dread going outside in our own gardens or opening our windows for fear of becoming nauseous; and local tourist-related businesses are losing bookings because of the overpowering smell.

We have been reporting the nuisance caused by the emissions from Newbridge Farm to the Environment Agency since early 2017. Despite the Agency having substantiated the complaints made about the odour since then as a high-level Category 2 breach of the Environmental Permit conditions, it has not yet taken any formal enforcement action. It has worked with the operator for two and a half years to reduce the odour emissions and has recently got the bird numbers down to 133,500 in just three of the five sheds in an attempt to reduce the impact on us.

We have seen from publicly available documents that the Agency appears not to be impressed by the trail of unsuccessful attempts by the operator to use ‘low cost – low tech’ solutions that are having little or no impact on reducing the odour emissions. How can a 57% reduction in bird numbers from the original 312,500 per crop cycle to 133,500 not result in a 57% reduction in the odour intensity? And yet, despite threatening prosecution or enforcement action, the Agency continues to allow the operator to re-stock with birds to “monitor the odour situation”. How can it expect that allowing the operator to do the same thing will end up with a different result…? That’s the definition of insanity!

We have suffered for long enough – and so have the poor chickens. It’s time to put end to this misery. We are asking for your support to put pressure on the Environment Agency to do the right thing and use the overwhelming proof of persistent non-compliance to suspend or even revoke the operator’s Environmental Permit until such time as the site is closed down completely; or the site owner invests significantly in proven – and approved – technology that would effectively eliminate the odour and the adverse impact of ammonia and other emissions on the local environment.

There is much more to this complex issue than can be covered here so for further details and background information, check out our website and our Facebook page ‘Fowl Play in East Huntspill’.

Thank you for your support.