Brewery scheme passed despite habitat concern

Conversion of a farm building in Kent into a microbrewery has been allowed after an inspector reviewed the impact of additional traffic on air quality in a nearby protected wildlife zone.

The site lay five kilometres from a forest designated as a special protection area and special area of conservation (SAC) under European habitat regulations. The council was undertaking air quality monitoring along a main road that would provide access to the brewery. Results suggested that excessive levels of nitrogen deposition were having an impact on the integrity of the SAC, which was particularly vulnerable to such emissions.

The council agreed that the appeal proposal would not have a significant impact on the forest by itself. However, it had asked the appellant to enter into a planning obligation transferring a permission for a nearby disused microbrewery to the appeal site, with a view to minimising the net increase in traffic movements. The appellant had not agreed to this request, since the second brewery fell outside his control.

The inspector decided that it was highly unlikely that the current owner of the other brewery would wish to resume beer production there. In any event, she noted, the appeal scheme involved a less intensive form of production generating only around two vehicle trips per day and requiring no extra staff. It would not have a significant impact on the SAC, she ruled.

Inspector: Lucy Gibbons; Hearing

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