PLANS to double the size of a chicken farm near Builth Wells have been given the green light by Powys County Councillors.

At a Planning committee meeting on Thursday, March 17, councillors discussed a planning application, by the Davies family of Wernhalog Farm, Llanfaredd near Builth Wells, which will see the number of broiler chickens, bred for meat, go up to 180,000.

The farm will see an extra two poultry units of 45,000 chicken each added to the site as well as “air scrubbers” to clean the air.

The family were given planning permission in March 2019 for two poultry units to keep up to 90,000 chickens.

Air scrubbers will also be added to these two units.

There have been concerns that dirty water run-off from the site could pollute the River Wye which is two kilometres from the farm.

Councillors were also told that 135 objections had been lodged against the scheme.

Objector Kate Milsom said that now the chicken farm had been operating for over a year they knew the “actual impact” of ammonia and nitrogen pollution rather than relying on the modelling.

She believed this application is to correct the “environmental failings” of the first two poultry units.

Agent, Ian Pick explained that the first application had been 100 per cent “compliant” at the time, and that ammonia emission thresholds have been drastically reduced since then.

Mr Pick said: “The site is completely sealed, there is no prospect of this development causing any runoff into the nearby brook, the design prevents it.

“We have a contract with an anaerobic digester plant, and all the dirty water and manure is going off site, nothing stored or spread on the farm.”

Sian Davies spoke on behalf of her family: “This extension is critical for the sustainability of our business.

“We currently employ three full time and five part time members of staff.

“If we were unsuccessful with our application, we would then have to make some of these workers unemployed.”

Cllr David Selby said: “I think it’s extremely unlikely that there is no detrimental effect on the ecology and environment, but I’m told by reports and by the officers that everything has been checked and is alright

“It makes it difficult for us to agree with objectors who have put a very strong case for what is wrong with this development.”

He added that it was a “good thing” that it is “gradually” becoming more difficult to get permission for this type of development.

Cllr Gareth Pugh said: “We’ve got a robust application and a very enthusiastic applicant.”

He added that he would move a vote to approve the application.

Councillors voted in favour of the proposal by 11 votes for, three against and one abstention.