PUBLIC CONSULTATION PERIOD - COMMENCED 7TH DECEMBER 2020
The public consultation for the Major development at Easter Meathie has been ongoing since the 7th December 2020 and the live public event was held the 18th January 2021. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Cogeo have chosen to extend the consultation period to ensure that interested parties have the opportunity to comment on the proposal; questions or comments can be made via the comment box provided.
It should be noted that comments submitted will be addressed in the Pre-Application Consultation (PAC) report to Angus Council.
This proposal seeks the construction of two 32,000 capacity free-range hen sheds to be located on farmland northwest of Easter Meathie, Forfar, DD8 2LF.
For further information regarding this proposal, please see the Scoping Opinion available on Angus Council's planning portal (Planning Reference: 20/00658/EIASCO). Following the completion of the EIA report, a non-technical summary will be made available prior to the submission of a full planning application.
Who are Craignathro Eggs?
Craignathro Eggs is run by Matthew Steel, a 25-year old farmer based on the outskirts of Forfar. Matthew's recent venture has seen the construction of a single 32,000 capacity free-range hen shed and due to its success is looking to expand his free-range egg business further.
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 under the headings below. Some of the issues we cannot provide comment on are animal welfare, ongoing operational processes and pollution control during the lifetime. These issues are covered separately under a licencing agreement with SEPA who will be responsible for monitoring the ongoing standards once the sheds are built and operating.
Concerns were raised about how this development will affect local wildlife and how we propose to mitigate the impacts. We were also asked when this will take place and who will be undertaking the habitat survey.
We understand your concerns regarding the impact on wildlife 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 29th 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 survey it was concluded that the site provides only limited suitable habitat for protected species. Full surveys were conducted and no signs of protected species were found on or near the development site. 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.
You were concerned about the increase of flooding at the site, especially in the range area where chicken litter will be left on the land and how this affects local waterways.
As part of the Scoping Opinion Angus Council requested a full Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Impact Assessment. This assessment is ongoing therefore we cannot provide specific answers for flooding or the mitigation measures proposed for the site. However, this comprehensive assessment is designed to ensure no negative impact on flood risk with all details included in the planning application.
Additionally, there will be extensive tree planting in the range and the change of land cover from arable to grassland which 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 downstream.
There were general concerns regarding the traffic associated with the day-to-day running of the hen sheds, including the number of HGV's that will be visiting the site per week and how the local roads would be able to cope with this traffic.
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 per week. Also, there will be a tractor and trailer used by the farmer twice per week to take away the litter from the 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 to visit the site.
We received several questions relating to the emissions associated with the proposed hen sheds at Easter Meathie; we have categorised and summarised these below. Please be aware that as our assessments are ongoing at the moment, we do not currently have specific answers for all the queries raised during the public consultation. However, all final reports will be 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). These assessments are carried out at the nearest receptor to ensure that all dwellings can meet the emissions limits as pollution generally disperses with distance. The modelling also includes climate data to account for wind direction and other weather effects.
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 concentration of PM10 will only be 47.8% of this annual figure.
The UK objective for NO2 is 40 μg.m-3, however the results of the dispersion modelling confirm that the annual concentration is 15.63 μg.m-3, 39.1% of the target.
Further information and informed maps will be made available following an in-depth air quality assessments for Easter Meathie.
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.
A common concern about hen sheds is the smell that will come from the free-range hen sheds and the day-to-day farming operations; in particular from the range area where chicken litter will be present.
We have completed air quality dispersion modelling for Easter Meathie which gives us an indication of predicted odour concentrations emitted from the development. The benchmark for odour impact in the UK is 1.5 oue/m3 and following the dispersion model that we have run for the site the predicted concentrations at Easter Meathie are 0.08% of this target. Based on the guidance, the impacts from the hen sheds will be ‘insignificant’.
In terms of the odour from hen litter produced on site, this will be dried within the shed prior to collection; reducing weight, volume and odour and will be stored offsite. The litter will be used as a fertiliser on the surrounding farmland and also sold on to local farmers. The odour management plan that is compiled as part of the SEPA Licence application deals with the storage and use of chicken litter as this is an operational rather than planning concern.
Concerns were raised about the potential increase in noise levels resulting from the development during both construction and the day-to-day operation of the hen sheds.
Concerns about the noise impact of this development generally relate to the delivery traffic in the area and the day-to-day operation of the hen sheds. We are currently carrying out a thorough assessment on the noise impact as was requested by Angus Council which is in line with BS8233. This is currently being completed by a 3rd party consultancy, once completed we will be able to provide further information on specific noise levels obtained although it must be stressed that noise limits are strictly protected by Environmental Health to avoid nuisance to neighbours.
There were several queries regarding the lighting proposed for the hen sheds and whether this will impact the surrounding residential properties.
Your concerns regarding lighting have been noted however we want to assure you that the hen sheds will be designed to ensure that you are not adversely affected by any floodlighting. The hens require at least 8 hours of darkness each day so the lighting will never be on for more than 16 hours at a time within the hen sheds. We would like to stress that this relates to internal lighting therefore we do not expect this to seen by local residents., The only lighting expected externally is for security purposes which is expected to be motion activated.
We have received a number of questions regarding site selection and whether felling would be required to build the hen sheds.
There has been no felling at Easter Meathie as this is not required for the chosen location. In terms of the site selected, it was felt that this would be the best place for the free-range hen sheds as it utilises the farms worst ground to make it more efficient for food production purposes. Alternative sites have been considered and these will be detailed in the planning application to Angus Council.
Previously we had not provided details of the exact location of hen sheds at Easter Meathie as we were undertaking assessments to determine the most suitable location, this has now been confirmed and you can view the location of the development below. Site selection took into account factors such as noise, emissions, access, landscape and operational considerations. It must be stressed that there are minimum requirements for the hens in terms of their free-range area and this has to be factored into site design along with the sheds themselves.
We have received a number of queries relating to how the hen sheds will operate and whilst some of these were 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 such as Solar PV and a Biomass boiler, the hen sheds will also have an incoming power supply from the local grid network to ensure a constant supply of power.
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 32,000 birds per hen shed and will be split into pens of 4,000. Also, the majority of the feed for the hens will be produced from local grain and will be stored onsite in silos to reduce the number of deliveries required.
We recognise you concerns over the visual impact that the hen sheds may have, Cogeo 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 4 acres of trees planted on the range which will help to reduce the visual impacts to the local community as well as providing benefits for wildlife and reducing flood risk.
We have received a number of queries relating to the hen litter on the range area and also what measures will be put in place to ensure that the litter does not cause pollution of the waterways surrounding Easter Meathie.
We understand your concerns over the potential for waterways to become polluted, however we can assure you that the SEPA licence requirements ensures that the quality of the waterways will not be compromised. Manure is currently spread on the land at Easter Meathie for the arable crops and there will actually be a decrease in the volume of manure produced from the hens. This combined with the grassland and trees will lead to a reduction in nutrient runoff.
Some of you requested clarification on the new jobs that will be made available to the local community and what the job roles will be.
Craignathro Eggs Ltd will be looking for 3 full time poultry technicians to work within the new development at Easter Meathie.
Live Event Format
Some respondents were unhappy with the format of the live public event and we would like to provide a formal response.
Our goal throughout this process has always been to provide information and allow all interested parties to be heard fairly and confidentially. We appreciate that some people to 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 this format was the closest replication of the private conversations we would normally have during a drop-in event.
Full details of the event were included 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.
Please complete this form to ask a question about this development.