LETTER: Concerns raised over farm plans

Your letters
Your letters

I write in reaction to the article on page 25 of the 19/02 edition ‘‘Exciting’ plans for Colgate farm are approved’.

In reporting the successful outcome of the appeal by Aquaponics UK to overturn HDC planning’s decision to refuse the development of the new farm you have failed to understand the background to this application.

In July 2013 the two gentlemen in your article notified the council of a change of use of the two barns on the site from agricultural to a business outlet selling and distributing wood processing equipment.

This notification didn’t in fact meet the terms of the 2013 amendments to the town and country planning order under which it was served and so was rejected by the council. During the application process many neighbours and councillors received a visit from the two gentlemen describing what they were proposing for the site.

Like others who received such a visit, I was amenable to the development of the aquaponics farming initiative and didn’t see this as causing problems locally with regard to traffic nor amenity value, especially when weighed against the potential benefits.

However, and again in common with others, when the description of the scheme went on to explain that the area around the two barns on the site, and the barns themselves, were proposed to be redeveloped to provide a log and biomass chip drying facility, I voiced my objections.

At the planning meeting in August when the original application was refused, the arguments centred on this second application of the site and not the farming aspect, despite the assertion that the council were refusing the aquaponics operation because of traffic movements relating to the biomass facility (CT 17 August 2014), and that there was a sense of farming element not being wanted either.

In fact your own report of a comment from a committee member indicated support for the farming element when first presented, the objection only arising when the biomass processing aspects were raised. Suggesting in the article of 19 February that the planning committee rejected an application for aquaponics farming is to miss the essence of the refusal – that the traffic generated by the biomass processing facility would be unacceptable for the area.

This too has been one of the major objections from local residents – another important issue being the siting of such a biomass facility in the AONB, and especially since such commercial-grade facilities tend to be located within woodland and on major estates. The vehicles used for such operations tend to be 30-ton containers hauled by tractors, and the volume of these indicated by this operation has been considered as unacceptable.

As the application stands, and this was the basis of the successful appeal, the two barns are planned to be used for the biomass processing facility, not as is quoted in the report as being used ‘to house the water based part’.

Further, the site has virtually no woodland within it and so any raw material for the biomass facility will be hauled in contrary to the report suggesting wood chippings would come from woodland surrounding the farm.

I am, though, heartened by the statement in the report that the barns are now designated to be used for the water based part of the aquaponics operation.

I, like other local objectors at the time, are not detached from our farmland, we are surrounded by a rich mixture of farm and woodland. Nor are we against the aquaponics operation, we have conventional greenhouse installations of a similar size to the new development within Colgate already, and they present no problem whatsoever.

Let’s see what actually happens on the site – the barns for the aquaponics operation, as reported by the article, or for the biomass facility, as applied for and agreed at appeal.


Woodlands Lane, Colgate