Villagers 'let down' over render plant

Angry villagers have accused councillors of being “a disgrace” and “letting them down” after they backed away from enforcement action against a major poultry firm.

Angry villagers have accused councillors of being “a disgrace” and “letting them down” after they backed away from enforcement action against a major poultry firm.

Banham Compost has put up a rendering plant at Clay Hall Farm, Great Witchingham, despite being blocked from varying an original planning permission.

Representing Great Witchingham Parish Council, planning consultant Mike Haslam, who has 40 years' experience in planning, told Broadland councillors that Banhams' actions amounted to “without doubt the most flagrant breach of planning control I have encountered in my career.”

But after hearing Banham Compost was likely to launch an appeal - which could take more than 18 months to resolve - and that officers “did not think it was causing serious harm to the community,” Broadland councillors voted eight to five on Wednesday against authorising enforcement action.


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They were also told that Banhams could not operate the plant until it had secured a licence, which would only be granted once officers were reassured over a range of issues.

Many of the 70-strong group of protesters from the Great Witchingham shouted “it's a disgrace,” “what a fudge” and “you've let us down” as they left the meeting after a 90-minute debate.

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Councillors had been told the local people's lives “were on hold,” house prices had fallen and their “community had been blighted” by the long-running planning saga.

The rendering plant was given permission in 2003 but the development put up by Banham is bigger, has a taller chimney, and different measures to deal with noise and smell.

Mr Haslam said: “This unauthorised development is causing enormous stress to the local community.

“Banhams have an appalling record of causing pollution - they have been fined on several occasions. They have been cavalier in their attitude to their local community.”

David Sayer, who runs the Blackwater Farm Equestrian Centre, urged councillors not to “abandon Great Witchingham and the Wensum Valley. It is a national treasure.”

Broadland planning officer Phil Courtier stressed Banham already had permission for a plant and the difference between the approved scheme and what had been built was “not significant to cause serious harm to the amenity of the local area and residents.”

No one represented Banham Compost at the meeting, but the company has already said it will appeal against the previous refusal and claims the plant is vital for East Anglia's poultry industry.

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