Last week, the Brown & Co planning team received confirmation of two significant planning permissions on behalf of clients; a 0.5MW farm-based anaerobic digestion plant and two large sheds to house 96,000 broiler chickens.
A number of farmers and rural businesses are considering diversification projects for a number of reasons such as concerns over arable returns in future years, opportunities to secure low cost funding or to provide an additional enterprise for younger generations.
Renewables and livestock ventures remain of significant interest while updating and consolidating existing grain stores and other infrastructure continue to be prudent investments in the future of any agricultural business. In addition, new building conversion rules and the loosening of national and local planning policy have increased the potential for land owners to obtain lucrative residential planning permissions.
These projects frequently require a range of surveys, impact assessments and reports which require specialist knowledge and expertise while compiling the results to form an environmental statement can be demanding and time consuming.
Specific issues arising from the recent consents include odour, ammonia and dust modelling for poultry sheds while the AD plant required an archaeological survey involving geophysics and trial trenching. Both projects will result in an increase in highways use and as such required detailed information on weekly vehicle movements. Most projects of this scale in rural locations require that due consideration is given to the local landscape character and protected ecological sites. Agriculture and rural businesses do however still enjoy a number of generally supportive measures in national and local policies subject to a range of issues being appropriately addressed.
All too often, obtaining planning permission presents a significant concern to many businesses. However, despite the planning systems’ flaws and complexities the process can usually be navigated with the appropriate expertise, experience and patience.