A retrospective planning application for an unauthorised earth banked slurry lagoon at Beckland Farm in Hartland has been turned down by Torridge District Council. The lagoon, which was built without planning permission, has already been the subject of enforcement action which was halted while the application was being considered. The refusal means that enforcement action can now be progressed with the intention of seeking the removal of the lagoon and a return of the land to its previous condition.
The Lagoon has caused controversy since it was built, generating numerous complaints to the Council. The Council have now assessed the suitability of the site following a full planning application submitted by the owners. In their assessment there were clear grounds for refusing the application and the officers report cited three main reasons:
- Emissions of ammonia and the potential effect on the air quality within the designated Tintagel Marsland Clovelly Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Marsland to Clovelly Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- The landscape and visual harm of the lagoon with the designated Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and within the Coastal Preservation Area with insufficient justification that the lagoon has to be sited in this sensitive landscape and not elsewhere.
- The increased number of cattle on the farm gives a consequence of significantly more intense slurry spreading having adverse implications on the amenity of the occupiers of the dwellings by virtue of the odour generated.
While the Council now intends to recommence enforcement action the applicants still have the right to appeal the planning decision. As a result any further action may be tempered by the outcome of that process.
Councillor Pete Watson – Lead Member for Planning said:
“A significant amount of planning legislation and Council policy is designed to support farmers in developing their businesses and recognises their important role in the local economy. However any expansion needs to be assessed on the harm that may be caused to the local environment and neighbouring properties. In this case the lagoon was badly sited and built without permission in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and special scientific interest. The decision to refuse this application has been taken after careful consideration of all the relevant factors and in this case the damage caused to the environment far outweighs any benefits. I hope that we can now progress to its removal and returning the landscape to how it was before.”