A DECISION on plans to create an egg-laying facility housing 24,000 chickens at a farm in the Ceiriog Valley has been delayed for a second time.

Councillors first met earlier this month to discuss an application by the owners of Cae Mor Farm in Pontfadog to expand their free-range egg-producing business.

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

The pair now want to create four new buildings at the farm in the Ceiriog Valley, which would each house an extra 6,000 chickens.

Members of Wrexham Council’s planning committee chose to defer their decision at the initial meeting so they could visit the site to assess the visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

Councillors travelled to see where the proposed facility would be based on Friday, June 24, but again failed to reach a conclusion on the scheme.

It came after the application was recommended for refusal by a senior council official amid concerns over the scale of the development and its potential impact on phosphate pollution levels in the River Dee.

Speaking at  a meeting held after the site visit at Wrexham’s Guildhall, Ceiriog Valley councillor Trevor Bates said he did not believe they should refuse the plans based on the visual impact.

Highlighting the possible economic benefits it would deliver, he said: “We need jobs as first thing in the morning you’ll see lots of cars going down the valley with people going out to work.

“And in the evening, you’ll see them coming back into the valley as there aren’t a lot of jobs within the Ceiriog Valley.

“It would be good to consider the two points separately because obviously phosphates do concern everyone and will need addressing one way or the other.

“I can’t put my hand on my heart though and say we should stop this because of the visual impact.”

An online petition was previously launched against the scheme which attracted more than 82,000 signatures.

A total of 36 formal objections were also lodged with the council, highlighting issues such as increased traffic and possible noise and odour from the facility.

Cllr Dana Davies told the committee she had remaining concerns about the visual impact of the proposals after visiting the site.

She said: “I think we have to realise that this area we’re talking about is within a special landscape area.

“It’s a case of where we draw the line on that because what reasons can we give to say that there is no detrimental impact from the application within that special landscape area?

“I haven’t really got an argument for that because I believe that there is a detrimental impact to the special landscape area.”

Cllr Stella Matthews also questioned the amount of jobs that would be created by the plans.

A proposal to reject the application because of the visual impact was defeated by five votes to four.

Committee members later voted unanimously to defer their decision to give the farm owners more time to provide evidence to show the development would not add to phosphate pollution levels.

Chair Michael Morris indicated the plans could go before councillors again in September.