Published: 10:49, 18 February 2021
| Updated: 10:51, 18 February 2021
The Environment Agency has opposed a £9m scheme to build three chicken sheds for 192,000 birds in the Weald.
Family firm Fridays wants to extend its free range egg production at Reed Court Farm, Chainhurst, near Marden.
This week a spokesman for the firm said it welcomed feedback from the agency and said: “It has provided a very helpful roadmap for us to address the issues it has raised.”
He added: “We are confident the points raised can be comfortably accommodated.”
The company says the facilities are needed to cope with the increased demand for British-laid eggs.
Residents have objected to the movement of footpaths and also fear chicken waste could pollute the farmland and River Beult which borders the site.
The Environment Agency has asked Maidstone Borough Council to reject the application because it would have a “significant impact on the river-floodplain habitat corridor” and would hinder the restoration plan for an area of Special Scientific Interest.
It said: “Insufficient information has been provided to assess the risks posed by this activity, with little detail of mitigation or compensation measures to address any identified risks” and called on the company to provide more details and to set its fence line back “as far as possible.”
The company, which employs 300, said it will mitigate any damage to the landscape by planting 36,000 trees over a 20-hectare area to create a new woodland. Most of the chicken manure would be taken by lorries to be turned into compost and bio-gas at Staplehurst.
The rest would be scattered over the 237 acres of the site.
The scheme is backed by Aimee Mahony, the chief poultry adviser at the National Farmers’ Union.