A COMPANY that boasts using the quickest method of recycling chicken manure into fertiliser in the world hopes to move its headquarters to Mid Wales by July next year.

Lohas Recycling – currently based in Telford – believes its Rapid Fermentation Technology might be a solution to the rise in intensive poultry units in Powys – which have earned the county the nickname “the poultry capital of Wales”.

Figures released earlier this year revealed that almost five times as many applications for chicken farms have been submitted here than across the entire rest of Wales in the last three years.

Of the 96 applications submitted to Powys County Council, of which 75 have been approved, three have been refused and 18 were still in the process of being decided or still “active”. By contrast, only 20 applications were received by authorities across the rest of Wales in that time, of which 13 were approved.

IPUs have caused some friction between farmers, the public and environmental groups in Mid Wales, but Lohas bosses feel they can ease tension by quickly disposing of chicken manure – with air pollution one of the chief complaints.

“There were 96 applications for chicken shed farms or sites made to Powys County Council since 2017, so it’s an issue that isn’t going away,” says Lohas Recycling’s managing editor Carlos Kao, who revealed a proposed move Newtown could happen next summer, creating four new jobs.

Uncertainty over farming subsidies and increased demand has seen farmers diversify more and more into large-scale pig and poultry farming in the UK in recent years, with a near 100 per cent increase in intensive farming since 2011.

There are now 116 intensive poultry units in Powys, each on average raising more than 40,000 birds. With an estimated 8.5 million chickens on permitted units in Powys, it means there are 64 times more chickens than people in the county.

A 2017 report by the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences said residents and farmers near intensive units are at increased risk of harmful bacteria, infectious diseases, viruses and air pollutants. A year later, the Welsh Government told local planning authorities to exercise particular care when considering developments that would bring livestock units within close proximity to homes, schools and hospitals.

Lohas has received lots of positive feedback since placing ads in the County Times this month.

“Since the ad went in the paper we’ve had lots of farmers coming to us explaining that chicken manure from their farms is a massive problem. The feedback has been very positive,” added Carlos, who believes many issues over the increase in poultry farms could be rectified by Lohas’ recycling process.

Traditional composting is time-consuming and lots of space, also producing odours and waste water, which is not environment friendly. Lohas’ RFT method, however, emits zero pollution, zero organic matter loss and zero carbon emissions, transforming organic waste into organic fertiliser in just three hours.

“The way the process works is we purchase the raw manure, put it into a fermentation machine, add an enzyme and it’s then processed into pellets.

“The process works by making the manure into odourless chicken manure pellets – which we’re hoping to sell at garden centres. It’s the world’s quickest method to compost.”

He is hoping to move the firm to Mid Wales in 2021 and although in the early stages the company hope they could get the green light next summer.

“We’re trying to gauge where to put a central factory,” said Carlos. “Newtown is a good central location and we’d look to open on a site outside of town due to the smell.

“Newtown seems the best site because there’s lots of farmers surrounding the town with chicken operations and we’ve been speaking to a lot of farmers around the Newtown area.”