‘Chicken prison’: Decision to be made on 32,000 bird Anglesey poultry shed that PETA want scrapped
Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter
A decision is set to be made on a proposed chicken shed that would house up to 32,000 free range birds.
Plans for the egg production facility at Cae Mawr, Llannerch-y-Medd, attracted opposition in the form of a 18,000 signatory petition by animal rights activists when the plans were first unveiled last year.
But ahead of a committee meeting on Wednesday, a report by Anglesey Council planning officers recommends that the plans should be approved.
Committee members, who have already visited the site for themselves, are being asked to green light the plans despite the opposition of bodies such as Llannerch-y-Medd Community Council, who fear the environmental impact, potential increase in traffic and highways safety concerns.
Other bodies, however, are recommending conditional approval including Natural Resources Wales and the authority’s Ecological and Environmental Advisor.
According to the planning report, as well as the petition organised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 31 letters of objection have been received on the basis of factors including the potential impact on tourism, the environment, landscape and an increase in traffic.
PETA activists, meanwhile, have called for the plans to be scrapped, “sparing thousands of birds a lifetime of suffering and an agonising death” at what they call a “chicken prison.”
According to the applicants, however, the 3,200 square metre development would create two jobs as well as consolidate the diversification of the farm, with the proposed building being 68.6 metres long with a 10 metre wide egg room.
Referring to RSPCA welfare standards, the design and access statement accompanying the application added, “The birds shall have access to roam the land lying to the east and west of the proposed building, which shall be dedicated pasture for the enterprise.
“The land will be fenced using electric fencing to keep predators out. Birds will be inspected at least once a day.
“The birds are free range and have an opportunity each day to exit the building and roam the designated ranging ground.
“The birds will exit the building using pop holes which are included in the design of the building.”
But PETA claim that even on such farms, the chickens are often prevented from engaging in these natural forms of behaviour.
A spokesperson added: “When their worn-out bodies can no longer produce enough eggs to be profitable, they’re sent to slaughter, typically to be turned into ‘low-grade’ meat.”
The planning officers’ report asks councillors to back the plans as long as conditions are met including measures to ensure that drinking water is not affected and management plans to control the visual and wildlife impact.
They conclude: “On balance it is considered that the proposed development respect the main thrust of planning policy by providing an economic opportunity within the open countryside by also protecting the environment. The proposed development also proposes ecology and landscape enhancements.
“Careful consideration has been given to the impact upon neighbouring properties, however it is not considered that the proposed development will have an impact upon these residential properties.
“Alterations to the access are essential in order that the development does not have a detrimental impact upon highway safety.”
A decision is expected when the authority’s planning committee meets virtually on Wednesday, September 1.