Victory for council in battle over whiff

A FARMER at the centre of the notorious “Woolpit whiff” has lost his latest legal battle with Mid Suffolk District Council, it emerged.John Clarke, whose farm at Drinkstone has been blamed for smells in the neighbouring village, had appealed against two authority decisions.

A FARMER at the centre of the notorious “Woolpit whiff” has lost his latest legal battle with Mid Suffolk District Council, it emerged.

John Clarke, whose farm at Drinkstone has been blamed for smells in the neighbouring village, had appealed against two authority decisions. They related to a court ruling which forced him to close a fertiliser factory.

Mid Suffolk applied for the closure after becoming concerned there was a shift in operations at Rookery Farm from agricultural to a solely industrial business.

Now planning inspector Douglas Morden has dismissed Mr Clarke's appeals.

He said: “The council's refusal and deemed refusal (respectively) to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of the use of the land and buildings for the reception, storage, sorting, composting and processing of animal by-products, including offal, fat, bones, blood, carcases and feathers was well-founded and that the appeals should fail.”

Afterward the council issued a statement which said: “Evidence produced by both sides has been carefully taken into consideration.

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“Mid Suffolk District Council has been pursuing enforcement action against Mr Clarke for over five years.

“Mr Clarke's appeals have both been dismissed and his claim for costs against Mid Suffolk District Council has also been turned down.

“It is likely now that MSDC's next step will be to pursue an action for an extended injunction in the High Court at the earliest opportunity.”

But Mr Clarke said he would now ask the district council for permission to extend the area on his premises allocated for mixed-use so that his fertiliser factory would not have to close.

He said: “The judge agreed with everything that we have done and said the council had been aware of a change of use ever since 1978. He said the mixed-use site had to cover a bigger area and we'll now have to discuss that with the council.

“Costs are just one of those things. It's a shame that everything has had to get this far - it could have been sorted out years ago - but unfortunately we've had to go from court to court.”

Over the years, residents in Woolpit say their lives have been blighted by the foul odour that emanated from Mr Clarke's operation.

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