Farmer wins Woolpit Whiff appeal

A FARMER at the centre of the notorious Woolpit Whiff saga has won his latest £100,000 dispute with Mid Suffolk District Council over his animal waste rendering operation.

A FARMER at the centre of the notorious Woolpit Whiff saga has won his latest £100,000 dispute with Mid Suffolk District Council over his animal waste rendering operation.

John Clarke, from Rookery Farm in Drinkstone, near Woolpit, whose business turns bird waste into fertilizer, appealed to The Planning Inspectorate after the local authority refused to grant him a rendering permit.

Mr Clarke has had permission to carry out rendering since 1999 but in 2004 the regulations changed and a permit was needed, sparking the latest battle with the authorities. If he had lost his appeal, he would have not been able to carry on.

Inspector Edward Simpson, who held a hearing earlier this year at Needham Market, said that there had been a lack of detailed evidence of specific operational or management failures at the plant provided by the council.


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And he found that the business used the best available technology within the industry, decided in favour of the farmer, and ordered the council to issue the permit.

Mr Clarke, who deals with about 40,000 tons of avian waste a year, said that he had spent £100,000 securing the permit.

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He said: “We render animal waste, turning it into fertilizer. The chicken industry is one of the biggest industries within East Anglia and there is a terrific lot of waste to deal with.

“In 2003 it was decided that you should not bury farm dead and they had to be rendered, and somebody has got to do it. The next nearest plants are near Coventry and at Crewe.

“We are pleased with this result, although I don't now what all the fuss was about really. Once we have got the permit we have got to comply with it and I am not in business to be a nuisance to anybody. We try our best not to be.”

Mr Simpson had been advised that there had been extensive complaints from local residents concerned about the operation.

But he said there had not been any significant number of prosecutions by the council and it would not be reasonable to believe that the farmer would not comply with any appropriate conditions imposed on his operation.

Tim Passmore, Conservative leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said there have been problems with a stink in the area.

He said: “He has won this at appeal and we are looking at the judgement carefully. We are considering our position and whether it is worth appealing this. I fully understand how residents feel.”

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