Fears of animal waste running into rural beck

Councillor Peter Caffrey
Councillor Peter Caffrey

Objectors to an agricultural building on green belt land fear animal waste run-off might reach a rural beck below, if it is given the go-ahead.

Calderdale Council officers have recommended the application, submitted by Leo Sawrij Ltd, for a building at Swales Moor Farm, Swales Moor Road, Halifax, be permitted, but it will come before the council’s Planning Committee on April 17 at the request of Councillor Peter Caffrey following concerns raised.

In ten neighbour-notification letters, objections to the proposal include the waste concerns, the visual impact on the Shibden Valley skyline and its proximity to the Grade II listed Scout Hall, and claims the building is a continuation of development by the Leo Group, which has business premises close by.

One wrote: “the implications are significant if animal husbandry and waste/water run-off is not correctly assessed”. Another pointied out: “Red beck is below the area” and one commented: “it seems counter intuitive to house animals in a shed on the side/top of a valley – the waste has to run somewhere and that would be downwards.”

In the report, to go before the committee, Coun Caffrey (Conservative, Northowram and Shelf) says: “I have not noticed any farming activity in this location or the immediate vicinity and am not clear therefore why an agricultural building is required.

“This is green belt land and part of a special landscape area overlooking the Shibden Valley. The proposed shed would be visible on the skyline and detract from the nature of the area.”

He also requested councillors on the committee to visit the location.

Giving reasons why the development should be permitted, officer reports say construction of new buildings in the green belt should be regarded as inappropriate, save for exceptions which include buildings for agriculture and forestry.

The applicant has provided evidence in respect of the agricultural business – the site is part of a holding of approximately 64 acres – and requires the building to shelter animals in winter and store more machinery which has been bought as the farm has grown, says the report.

Typically there are between 200 and 400 sheep at the farm and between 40 and 70 cattle, sheep only on the land in the last year.

The applicant states there are 300 new lambs on the farm this spring which have become prone to foot rot because of recent wet weather conditions, with veterinary advice that they be kept on dry ground and given antibiotics.

In their report officers acknowledge there is extensive history linked to the industrial and waster transfer business on the opposite side of Swales Moor Road but no previous planning history on the farm site. It would be directly in front of an existing building, so would not increase the visual impact or harm the wider setting of Scout Hall, says the council’s conservation officer.

One of six conditions which must be met if the plan is allowed is prior approval of foul, surface water and drainage systems as well as external works, taking into account flood risk on and off the site, before the first operation of the development, and retained thereafter.