Villagers’ joy as farmers scrap planned fertiliser lagoon near Hitchin

A map included in the planning application, showing the location of the site where a 20,000-cubic-me

A map included in the planning application, showing the location of the site where a 20,000-cubic-metre biofertiliser lagoon was proposed near Hitchin. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Farmers near Hitchin have withdrawn a plan to build a huge biofertiliser lagoon off the A505 near Great Offley.

Pilkington Farms Partnership withdrew its planning application for the 20,000-cubic-metre lagoon – which Great Offley’s Laurence Cowley described to the Comet as a “dung lake” – after a massive campaign called It Stinks was launched in the village.

Neighbours fearing “a constant and unacceptable smell in the village, depending on the wind direction” had signed more than 400 letters of objection for submission to North Herts District Council before the plan was withdrawn.

Laurence told the Comet: “We are delighted that the plans have been dropped.

“We have a very strong community in Offley, and the Keep Offley Rural group will vigorously defend anything that will potentially damage our village.”

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Another neighbour, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “We live in the countryside, and accept that there will be unsociable odours at certain times of the year – but the lagoon would have been a year-round blight on our lives.

“We will be ready to fight any proposals which will bring unfair and unwanted misery to our community.”

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He expressed concern that there could now be applications for smaller biofertiliser lagoons near Pilkington’s farms around the Offley, King’s Walden and Whitwell areas to the west and south of Hitchin.

According to the design and access statement attached to Pilkington’s planning application, the lined and covered storage lagoon would have helped to support agricultural work on 1,620 hectares of land.

The idea was to reduce the proportion of manufactured fertiliser used by the farm in favour of biofertiliser – nutrient-rich material produced from recycled food waste.

The statement outlined odour risk and mitigation actions surrounding the proposed lagoon and spreading of biofertiliser, and said the risk of an unwanted stench is low.

The farm is already building a new access road for agricultural traffic between Hoo Farm and Offley Hill, which according to the planning statement would have seen traffic accessing the lagoon bypass Great Offley entirely.

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