LOCALS say they “strongly object” to a planning application to further develop a poultry feed mill in Clearwell due to its adverse impact on the environment.

Food producer Noble applied for permission from Forest planners to replace current storage buildings at Clearwell Farm at the end of last year.

But campaign group Foresters Against Fowling (FAF), which has long opposed Noble’s operations at the site, is calling on the council to reject the plans due to the company’s role in the pollution of local waterways and areas of ancient woodland.

Noble wants to demolish two existing former poultry buildings and replace them with a raw material store including photovoltaic roof panels, general storage building and amenity block and associated drainage and engineering works.

But FAF, along with Newland Parish Council and local residents, are concerned about the impact of the development on biodiversity, the visual landscape and safety concerning caverns located underneath the access road.

In an open letter, FAF describes the mill as an “ever expanding industrial site which is situated in an entirely inappropriate place, where it is causing significant damage to SSSIs, ancient forest and threatens a public health disaster through the zoonotic transfer of animal disease to humans.”

It says that ancient forest and bat habitat is being damaged on “a daily basis” due to ammonia emissions and a “huge” volume of 44 tonne lorries accessing the site.

The group say the council’s enforcement department is failing to properly regulate the site, concerning the monitoring of HGVs and ammonia pollution, and that Noble is a “rogue operator” which has no intention of protecting the environment.

The letter also highlights the mill’s supply of intensive poultry units (IPUs) in the Wye catchment, which is perhaps the biggest contributor to the ongoing pollution of the river.

Noble says it wants to build the new units to increase its on-site storage for raw materials, which is currently limited to 600 tonnes across three silos.

That means only three types of materials can be stored at the site at any one time, and HGVs are travelling back and forth between the site and external stores in Clearwell and St Briavels when the materials are required.

It claims the proposal would result in two less lorries arriving at the site each day.

It also says that additional storage would enable them to continue to operate on weekends, when there is limited haulage availability.

The company says although two sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and a parcel of the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Bat Sites (SAC) lie within a 2km radius, they will not be impacted due to the nature of the works and their “sufficient” distance from the site.

The determination deadline for the application is March 8.