Casebook: Appeal Cases - Agricultural Development - Poultry farm plea founders on lack of evidence

An enforcement notice directed against poultry processing at a farm in Essex has been upheld after an inspector concluded that the appellants' evidence was lacking in detail.

The appellants produced high-quality free range turkeys, predominantly for the Christmas market. In 1994 an application was approved for a turkey breeding and preparation building at the farm. The council claimed that this permission was intended to be limited to the slaughtering of birds raised on the holding and did not permit other birds to be brought onto the site for processing.

The appellants said that poultry were imported to the site for slaughtering and processing before the 1994 permission was issued. They argued that although birds had been bred on the farm, many had come from others over a period of more than ten years. But the inspector found no documentary evidence to support these claims.

He noted that three of the four witnesses who gave evidence for the appellants were members of the same family and could hardly be described as fully independent. He held that if the scale of the operation was as substantial as the appellants claimed, amounting to the processing of between 35,000 and 45,000 turkeys a year, invoices and accounts would be available.

In his opinion the permission granted in 1994 did not authorise the slaughtering of poultry on such a scale because it was intended to limit the use to breeding birds on the farm. The scale, nature and character of the use had changed materially in the past ten years so was not immune from enforcement action, he concluded.

DCS No: 100039096; Inspector: Arthur Lemon; Inquiry.

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