A FARMER near Meifod has submitted plans to increase his free range egg production unit by an extra 300 per cent.

Pant Farm, Meifod, which is farmed by the Morris family have two egg production units that house 8,000 birds.

They now want to replace the existing units with two bigger buildings that can take 32,000 birds.

The current unit dimensions are 30.48metres by 7.62metres and the proposal will see bigger units measure 110.76metres by 26.20metres.

Agents Roger Parry and Partners said in the Design and access Statement: "Mr Morris has successfully diversified into free range egg production at Pant Farm and the enterprise has been successful.

"The extension of the business has been researched fully and has supplemented the previous marginal farm profits.

"The proposal is for a replacement free range poultry unit building to provide a 32,000 free range bird laying production unit.

"The new building will be located on the existing free range unit to the south of Cil Mawr and will be accessed utilising an existing farm track which will need to be stone.

"The application also includes a hard standing area together with a service area, office and egg store on the north east end."

The statement continues: "The eggs would be conveyed into the control area where they would be packed and stored.

"The birds will have direct access from both sides of the building to dedicated pasture, which will be fenced to keep out predators.

"The birds are brought in as young laying stock and remain in the egg production unit for some 14 months.

"After this time the flock is removed and the whole building fully cleaned down internally and the new flock introduced to restart the egg production cycle."

The statement explains that land surrounding the laying units will be divided into a series of paddocks which the birds are allowed to use for up six to eight weeks each.

To protect the birds from predators, especially foxes a 1.2metre semi-permanent fence with netting is planned.

HGVs will bring in feed two to three times a month and eggs will be collected by lorry twice a week.

Agents, Roger Parry and Partners has also stressed the economic importance of farm diversification.

It said: "Poultry egg laying is becoming an important element in the Powys agricultural economy and its use of appropriate sites is supported.

"Farm businesses need to change to grow in response to market forces and legislation if they are to survive.

"Local planning authorities are required to ensure that the economic benefits associated with proposed development are understood and that these are given equal consideration with social and environmental issues on the decision-making process and should recognise that there will be occasions when the economic benefits will outweigh social and environmental considerations."