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Victory for 'Woolpit Whiff' protesters

PUBLISHED: 07:06 11 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 March 2010

VILLAGERS were celebrating after the "Woolpit Whiff" farmer was dealt a major blow in his attempt to create a new rendering operation at his farm.

Mid Suffolk district councillors voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject his change of use planning application for cooking machinery to be used for rendering at Rookery Farm in Drinkstone.

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VILLAGERS are celebrating after the "Woolpit Whiff" farmer was dealt a major blow in his attempt to create a new rendering operation at his farm.

Mid Suffolk district councillors voted overwhelmingly to reject John Clarke's change of use planning application for cooking machinery to be used for rendering at Rookery Farm in Drinkstone.

Councillors overturned by 12 votes to three their officers' recommendation the application should be approved, subject to conditions, following a huge outcry from five villages.

But Mr Clarke vowed to appeal immediately and accused councillors of ignoring the advice of their officers and professional people.

The authority was lobbied by parish councils representing several thousand people in Woolpit, Drinkstone, Beyton, Tostock and Elmswell to reject the plan, received a 250-name petition and was sent more than 100 letters from objectors.

Residents claimed they already had to endure unpleasant smells from the animal feed production farm and, at times, had been unable to open windows or use their gardens.

They feared the proposed development would make matters worse, would see large lorries travelling to the site on unsuitable roads and would entail the site becoming an industrial development in the countryside.

Mid Suffolk District Council has also received 1,000 complaints about the farm in the past year.

Ray Melvin, an Independent district councillor for Woolpit, said: "This site has been a running sore for the 15 years I have served on this council and for many years before that.

"There have been tens of thousands of complaints over the years and all our planning officers can say is that this is no worse than what exists. What an indictment on a planning authority."

Penny Otton, the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, felt the application effectively made the site an industrial operation.

Gordon Paton, a Conservative district councillor, added: "My concern is for the health of the large proportion of residents who will be effected by the smell and spillage of offal."

But Terry Green, the Labour deputy leader of the council, said the development had to be considered on purely planning grounds and he felt unable to support residents who wanted it thrown out.

Speaking after the meeting, Woolpit Parish Council chairman David Cordon said: "We and the rest of the parish councils are delighted.

"We have suffered this nuisance for 20 years and hope this is the final time we have to go through this process."

But Mr Clarke said he would be immediately appealing and added: "They have gone against all the recommendations from their officers and professional people.

"There has been a lot of hype. We are licensed by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for rendering and have been for a long time now. We will appeal it."


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