‘Battle’ between farmers and locals over chicken houses planning sent to An Bord Pleanala

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

A PLANNING row over the expansion of a chicken farm outside Newcastle West which has been dubbed ‘The Battle of Coolanoran’ is to be decided on by An Bord Pleanala.

A PLANNING row over the expansion of a chicken farm outside Newcastle West which has been dubbed ‘The Battle of Coolanoran’ is to be decided on by An Bord Pleanala.

Last month Limerick County Council approved plans by farmer Pat Kenny to construct two new poultry houses with capacity for 20,000 chickens each at the farm adjoining his home at Coolanoran, near Ardagh.

However the decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanala by local resident Dr Patrick O’Connor, who objected to the plans on behalf of a residents committee, who claim that poultry farming in their area “has grossly impaired our quality of life” and is in danger of turning their area into “a rural slum”. A final decision on the plans is due by December 3.

Mr Kenny’s plans to expand his poultry farming operation date back to January 13, 2011, when he submitted an original planning application which was later withdrawn. A further application lodged on January 21 last year was refused, while a subsequent plan lodged on July 7, 2011 was also withdrawn.

The most recent plans were lodged with the county council on March 27, and contained an environmental impact survey (EIS) compiled on Mr Kenny’s behalf by Trevor Montgomery of Montgomery EHS, Beechwood Gardens, Newcastle West.

In the EIS, Mr Montgomery states that the new chicken houses “will not severely impact the landscape”, and that Mr Kenny “is committed to do whatever is necessary to avoid complaints” regarding noise, odours and other issues.

However in a lengthy objection submitted on April 27 and co-signed by nine residents, Dr O’Connor outlined “vehement opposition” to Mr Kenny’s plans, and referenced a description of the planning dispute as “The Battle of Coolanoran”.

Dr O’Connor said that “the most stringent objection to the further development of poultry houses” was being submitted by residents, as “noise, noisomeness and nuisance” had become features of everyday life in the area. In the EIS, Mr Montgomery said that surveys of noise at the site had been carried out, and the decibel levels were within World Health Organisation guidelines.

However Dr O’Connor rejected these assertions. “[Mr Montgomery] should... come on sabbatical to Coolanoran... and sample its aromatic blend of noisy, smelly delights”, he wrote.

In the EIS, it is noted that Mr Kenny has worked as a poultry farmer for twenty years, and during this time “no complaint has been received” from locals. It is also noted that if needed Mr Kenny will counter smell problems with “odour abatement technology”.

Dr O’Connor said that residents would fight the expansion of chicken farming there, which would turn “the environs of the road to Ardagh into what would, in effect, become a rural slum”.