Lagoon cover best option for controlling smell

An inspector found in favour of a manmade cover rather than reliance on a natural crust to control odour and ammonia from a dairy farm slurry lagoon outside a Devon village and declined to delete a condition.

Planning permission for retention of the large slurry lagoon had been granted by the council, subject to conditions including approval of the details of a cover to be placed over the lagoon before it could be used. The original application had shown a floating cover.

The appellant now disputed the need for the £30,000 cover amid concern over the impact on farm viability and suggested an alternative of tree planting to diffuse emissions. However, the council maintained that the condition reamained necessary and reasonable given that Public Health and Natural England had both raised concern that without the floating cover, odours and ammonia emissions from the lagoon could harm living conditions and the environment. The council had also received complaints from local residents.

Having regard to recent advice published in DEFRA good agricultural practice guidance on reducing ammonia emissions published in 2018, indicating that lagoon covers can reduce ammonia emissions by sixty per cent and are far more effective than a natural crust, alongside an absence of evidence that farm viability would be affected or the effectiveness of additional vegetation as an alternative, the inspector concluded that installation of a cover was required and the condition was reasonable and necessary.

Inspector: Andrew Spencer-Peet; Written representations

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