The Planning Application is now Live
Planning reference number: 21/00337/FULM
The public consultation period ended on 7th April 2021.
Full details of the planning application is available on Angus Council's planning portal (Planning Reference: 21/00337/FULM).
This proposal seeks the construction of two 32,000 capacity free-range hen sheds to be located on farmland at North Mains of Cononsyth, Arbroath, DD11 3SA.
Who are Cononsyth Farms?
Cononsyth Farms are a successful farming business, run by the Dowell family, who have diversified over the years with renewable energy, a honeyberry orchard and a pumpkin patch. Recognising the growing demand for free ranged eggs, Cononsyth Farm are looking to further enhance their sustainable farming model.
Public Consultation Overview
Our initial public consultation identified certain concerns relating to the proposed hen sheds. Whilst not all queries we received can be answered because they relate to non-planning issues, we’ve collated the questions and comments from the online feedback, emails and Live Chat event and addressed them below.
Some of the issues we cannot provide comment on are animal welfare, ongoing operational processes, pollution control during the lifetime of the hen sheds. These issues are covered separately under a licensing agreement with SEPA who will be responsible for monitoring the ongoing standards once the sheds are built and operating. We also received a number of concerns regarding works carried out onsite prior to this application however we are not able to comment on this as any such farming activities are not in the bounds of this application.
We understand your concerns regarding the impact that this development may have on wildlife at the development site and the surrounding area however there is legislation that protects habitats and species in the UK which must be considered with respect to any development.
- A Phase 1 Habitat Survey was carried out on 22nd September 2020 by Cogeo’s Ecologist who has over 30 years of experience and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management. Following the site survey, it was concluded that this does not present a valuable or sensitive habitat for native plants and animals. In particular, many of you raised concerns about the presence of bats, badgers and red squirrels however full surveys were conducted and no signs of protected species were found on or near the site. There were no populations of protected species within the application site or likelihood of a resultant displacement. Given the low ecological value of this site, no further surveys are required; however, all information will be assessed by Angus Council and NatureScot (SNH) following the submission of the planning application.
- As part of the scoping opinion, Angus Council requested that a Tree survey was carried out at Summerhill to determine the impacts on the trees from the access track. The tree survey was undertaken on 25th and 26th November 2020 by Cogeo’s Ecologist. Following the site survey, it was concluded that the access track will have limited impact (if any) on the woodland at Summerhill. The findings of the Tree Survey will be submitted to Angus Council.
We have received a number of concerns regarding the chosen development site and its proximity to sensitive receptors in the area; with many referring to the Cordon Sanitaire regulations. Several queries were made about alternative sites that have been considered for this development and why they have not been chosen and also our plans for screening in the range area. Many of you also asked why we resubmitted the Proposal of Application Notice for this development noting that the development boundary had been increased.
- In terms of the site selected, it was felt that the hen sheds would be best placed here as it utilises the farmers least productive ground, making it more efficient for food production purposes. Many factors have been considered when selecting the site such as noise, emissions, access, landscape and operation considerations. In terms of the free-range area, there are minimum requirements that must be met which has to be factored into site design along with the sheds themselves; the chosen site offers the greatest use of land at Cononsyth. Alternative sites considered will be detailed in the planning application to Angus Council.
- We also received many queries which refer to the ‘Cordon Sanitaire’, however this relates to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992. As this planning application relates to a Major development where full planning permission is required, the Cordon Sanitaire does not apply.
- We recognise your concerns regarding the visual impact of the hen sheds and want to assure you that we are working with the landowner and the Council to develop a screen planting plan for the range area. We anticipate that there will be approximately 10 acres of trees planted on the range which will help to reduce the visual impact to the locals as well as benefitting local wildlife and reducing flood risk.
- The Landscape & Visual Impact Assessment has been carried out at Cononsyth, where agreed viewpoints have been investigated to determine the impact of the development on locally recognised sensitive areas. Following the assessment, the visual impact of the hen sheds is deemed minor given the low profile and finishings of the buildings proposed.
- Angus Council requested that new Proposal of Application Notice was submitted with an amendment to the development area proposed. Although there is no requirement to provide the exact layout/design/dimensions of the development within a PAN, the development boundary should however cover any land that could form part of the planning application in the future. As such, Cogeo amended the development boundary and resubmitted the PAN to ensure that the full site would be covered in the event that the development had to be amended following further environmental assessments. Although the PAN was resubmitted, the only amendment that was made was the development boundary.
Many were concerned about the area of hard standing increasing the risk of flooding in the field/range area and the potential for this to impact residential properties surrounding the site. Concerns were raised regarding mitigation methods and how we propose to screen the foul water for pollutants before being used for crop irrigation. We also received many queries regarding the safeguarding of Denton Burn and the pond at Cononsyth Farms.
- As part of the Scoping Opinion, Angus Council requested a Drainage Impact Assessment to assess surface water flood risk, waste and surface water drainage associated with the development. This assessment is ongoing therefore we cannot provide specific answers for this or the mitigation measures proposed for this site. However, this comprehensive assessment is designed to ensure no negative impact on surrounding land as a result of the development. Full details of this assessment will be included in the planning application to Angus Council.
- We understand that many of you are concerned about run-off from the free-range area having an impact on neighboring properties and potentially polluting the nearby waterways however we want to assure you that this will not be the case. The quantity of chicken litter left in-situ on the range will be a net decrease in the quantity that is currently spread on the land as fertiliser. Additionally, there will be extensive tree planting in the range and the change of land cover from arable to grassland will have a net benefit in reducing run-off rates on the site. This slows the rate at which water enters waterways as well as extracting more water from the soil which helps reduce flood risk. It should be noted that this development site does not fall within a flood risk zone however a full SuDS design will be submitted with the planning application following the assessment of surface water flooding.
- With regards to foul water, all foul water discharge and pollution pathways are regulated under the SEPA permit to ensure no adverse effects on the environment.
- During the public consultation we received queries relating to specifically to Denton Burn. Whilst we understand your concerns about the impact to the burn, there has been no specific monitoring of Denton Burn requested by Angus Council or their consultees therefore this will continue to fall under the remit of SEPA.
We received several questions relating to the emissions associated with the proposed hen sheds; we have categorised and summarised below. Please be aware that as our assessments are ongoing at the moment, we currently do not have specific answers for all queries that were raised during the public consultation. However, all final reports will be made publicly available as part of the planning application.
- All emissions are regulated by SEPA and therefore all developments must comply with current regulations and guidance. SEPA will continue to regulate the hen sheds throughout the lifetime of the development.
- In terms of the specific pollutants, a full air quality assessment will consider the following: Particulate matter (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ammonia (NH3).
- Specific pollutant concentrations have been assessed at the nearest receptor as this provides a clear indication of whether the concentrations fall within the parameters of the UK Air Quality Objectives.In Scotland, PM10 must not exceed 18 μg.m-3, however at the closest receptor the results confirm that the maximum concentration of PM10 will only be 3.03 µg.m-3.
- A full Ammonia Assessment will be completed as part of the EIA application. All emissions are regulated by SEPA and the planning application will need to demonstrate compliance with all current regulations and guidance. SEPA will continue to regulate the operation of the hen sheds throughout the lifetime of the development.
There was a common concern about the smell that will come from the free-range hen sheds and the day-to-day farming operations, in particular the smell from litter on the range and the spreading of manure on the fields.
- We have carried out air quality dispersion modelling for the hen sheds at Cononsyth which provides an indication of the predicted odour concentrations that will be emitted from the hen sheds. Following the odour assessment, impacts from the proposed development are not likely to cause nuisance or impair benefit beyond the site boundary.
- The benchmark for odour impact in the UK is 1.5 oue/m³ for most offensive and 6.0 oue/m³ for least offensive. The results of the odour assessment confirm that the maximum odour impact for this development is 7.16 oue/m³, lower than the benchmark for the least offensive odours.
- With regards to the odour from hen litter onsite, this will be dried within the hen sheds prior to collection, reducing its weight, volume and odour. Once dried, it will be collected by the farmer and stored offsite to be used as a fertiliser on surrounding farmland, with some sold on to local farmers.
- An odour management plan will be submitted as part of the SEPA License application which deals with the storage and use of chicken litter as this is an operational rather than a planning concern.
General concerns were raised about the potential increase in noise levels in the rural area as a result of the day-to-day operations of the hen sheds; in particular, traffic including collection and deliveries and the presence of birds in the range area.
- We understand your concerns about the potential noise from the hen sheds however we want to assure you that a full noise assessment is being undertaken by an external consultant in line with BS8233. Once this has been completed, we will be able to provide further information on the specific noise levels obtained during the assessment, although we must stress that noise limits are strictly protected by Environmental Health to avoid nuisance to neighbours.
Traffic, Transport & Access
We have received general concerns regarding the traffic associated with the day-to-day running of the hen sheds, including scheduled and unscheduled deliveries, removal of chicken litter and the size of vehicles that will be associated with the operations. Concerns were also raised about the proposed access route to the site from the B961 and the works that will be required to ensure that the unclassified road (U467) can accommodate an increase in vehicles. Many of you requested further information about the traffic survey that was being carried out and the alterative access routes that have been considered.
- Deliveries and collections will be scheduled with the local re-seller within normal operating hours, with 2 egg collection lorries and 2 feed delivery lorries each week. There will not be any unscheduled collections or deliveries involving the use of HGVs as the farmer will have contracted days scheduled with the re-sellers.
- The chicken litter will be removed from the site by the farmer twice per week using standard farm sized vehicles, this will then be transported and stored off site.
- In terms of the day-to-day running of the hen sheds, it is anticipated that there will be two visits per day for employees to pack eggs and monitor the birds however standard sized vehicles will be used by the employees when visiting site.
- It is not suitable to have a road through the range area therefore the chosen access route has been deemed most appropriate with regard to the site layout, design and orientation as vehicles will access the front of the site, avoiding the range area. Details of the alternative access routes considered will be included in the planning application to Angus Council.
- The traffic survey took place in January 2021 and we are currently working with the Council’s roads department to determine the works that are required, including improvements to the junction and passing places on the unclassified road. Many residents raised concerns that the traffic survey would not show an accurate representation of the roadway as this was carried out during a National Lockdown however this has been approved by the Council.
- During the operational phase of the hen sheds, associated traffic movements will also take place within normal operating hours. Following the public consultation, it was made clear that many of you expect traffic to and from the site 24 hours a day, however this will not be the case; access during night-time hours will be for emergency purposes only.
Full details of the traffic survey, traffic management plan and road upgrades including passing places will be submitted in the planning application to Angus Council.
We have received a number of queries relating to how the hen sheds will operate and whilst the majority of these are not related to the planning application, we want to assure you that the operation of the hen sheds will be of the highest standard.
- While we mentioned that the hen sheds will benefit from renewable technologies, they will also have an incoming power supply from the local grid network to ensure that there is a constant supply of power when demand is high.
- We understand your concerns regarding the welfare of the hens; however this is a free-range hen shed therefore the hens will have the ability to roam outwith the sheds. In terms of the shed design there will be 32,0000 hens in each shed, split into pens of 4,000.
- DEFRA will monitor and regulate the animal welfare of the birds however it is in the interest of the applicant to ensure welfare of the birds is maintained.
- The majority of the feed for the hens will be produced from local grain and will be stored onsite in silos, reducing the number of deliveries required at the site.
- As mentioned previously, the farmer currently outsources fertiliser for the fields which is stored at the farm. The farmer will be using the chicken litter produced at Cononsyth as fertiliser on his land therefore reducing the carbon footprint of the operations by using their own by-product. We understand your concerns about the spreading of chicken litter on surrounding farmland however we want to assure you that there will be no increase in the quantity or frequency of manure spreading at the farm.
There were general queries about the footpath that is proposed around the field boundary, in particular, how the public will be able to access this and the materials that will be used.
- The landowner understands that the development site is used regularly by many locals and has therefore decided to create an informal pathway around the boundary of the range. This will be accessed via the woodland at Summerhill adjacent to the access track.
- This will be an informal pathway, similar to what is used by the locals currently.
We understand your concerns regarding the free-range area and how we propose to contain the hens. Many of you also mentioned the chicken litter that will be left in-situ and how we propose to mitigate the effects of run-off to ensure that surrounding waterways are not impacted.
- We recognise your concerns over the potential for waterways to become polluted, however we can assure you that the SEPA license requirements ensure that the quality of the waterways are not compromised. Manure is currently spread on the farmland at Cononsyth for crops which is a much greater volume than what will be produced by the hens in the range. This combined with the grassland and screen planning will cause a reduction in the nutrient runoff.
- There will be post and wire fencing around the free-range area to ensure that the hens are secure whilst protecting them from predators. This fencing will also separate the range from the informal pathway around the boundary of the site.
Many of you requested further details on the jobs opportunities that will be made available to the local community and what the job roles will likely be.
- Cononsyth farms Ltd will be looking for 4 full-time poultry technicians to work within the new development at Cononsyth.
Live Event Format
We understand that some respondents were unhappy with the format of the live event and we would like to take this opportunity to provide a formal response.
- Our goal throughout this process has always been to provide information and allow interested parties to be heard confidentially. We appreciate that some people do not have the confidence or desire to air their views in a public forum, particularly if their view differs from others. To make sure everyone had a fair chance to speak and to hear all views equally, we made the decision to use the Live Chat format. We felt that this was the closest replication of the private conversations we would normally have during a drop-in event.
- We included full details of the event in the Pre-Application Notice submitted to Angus Council who have confirmed that the consultation event meets the criteria of the temporary Scottish Government Planning Guidance. We acknowledge that this may not be the preferred format for some of you, but we have a responsibility to ensure accessibility and fairness for all and we did not feel a video conference format met that criteria.
It should be noted by all respondents that any objection or support raised to Cogeo during this process only relates to the pre-application process and not the formal planning application. Should you wish to comment on the planning application itself that will be carried out by Angus Council following submission of the project for determination.