Plans to create an egg-laying facility housing 24,000 chickens at a farm in Wrexham could be refused after tens of thousands of people signed a petition opposing it.

The owners of Cae Mor Farm in Pontfadog applied to Wrexham Council to expand their free-range egg-producing business in December 2020.

The organic farm run by Julian and Emma Morris is already home to a production unit which accommodates 16,000 hens after planning permission was granted on appeal in 2017.

They now want to create four new buildings at the farm in the Ceiriog Valley, which would each house an extra 6,000 chickens, in a bid to boost their production capacity.

Siobhan Noonan, who lives in nearby Llangollen, started an online petition against the scheme in March last year as she claimed it would have a “massively negative impact” on the area.

It has since attracted more than 82,000 signatures with the proposals now due to go before the local authority’s planning committee next week.

Border Counties Advertizer: An image showing how the sheds would lookAn image showing how the sheds would look

The application has been recommended for refusal by a senior council official, who has raised concerns over the scale of the development.

In a report published yesterday (Tuesday, 7 June), interim chief planning officer Ian Jones said: “Despite the justification as submitted, there are still concerns regarding the likely visual impact of the buildings upon the established landscape character of the area.

“Whilst some visual impacts can be controlled or mitigated, this will take time.

“There is also concern that if this type of development is allowed, the same visual arguments could be used for further development, and it will have potential to erode the character of the area.”

He added: “The principle of new agricultural buildings is the countryside is supported, but there is concern that the scale of development at this location is not fully justified at this time.

“It is important to minimise visual impacts since these will be long lasting for this area.”

Border Counties Advertizer: A view of the site where the egg production facility would be locatedA view of the site where the egg production facility would be located

As well as the petition, a total of 36 formal objections have been raised against the plans, highlighting issues such as increased traffic, animal welfare concerns and the potential impact of noise and odour from the facility.

The Woodland Trust and Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales have also voiced their opposition to the scheme.

Meanwhile, a total of 22 letters of support have been submitted with those backing the plans claiming there is a need for more organic farms.

They also said it would help to create jobs and boost the local economy.

Planning consultants acting on behalf of the farm’s owners said the proposed units would assist in keeping the business running.

Border Counties Advertizer: An aerial view of the existing farmAn aerial view of the existing farm

In a planning statement accompanying the application, they said: “The proposal is for a new organic free range poultry unit.

“The production of Welsh free-range eggs is an important element of the agricultural economy.

“Two additional full-time jobs will be created and one of these will be a farming apprentice

“Farm businesses need to change and grow in response to market forces and legislation if they are to survive.”

The proposals will be considered by councillors at a meeting being held on Monday (June 13, 2022).