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New egg unit gets go-ahead - October '08

The Watsons

Plans for a free range egg laying unit with 16,000 hens on a farm near Bowsden have been approved by planners.

The decision was made at an extraordinary planning meeting held at Bowsden Village Hall on Monday night following a visit to Bowsden Moor to see the site first hand. Jonathan and Jayne Watson, who with Mr Watson's uncle, Brian Redhead, own and tenant around 300 acres, were delighted with the decision.

Mrs Watson said: "Food security, minimising food miles and efficient, quality food production has never been so important and we intend to produce a product which is in demand by the British consumer.

"We look forward to starting production in 2009 and look forward to launching our product to the consumers of the north east." Their plan had encountered strong opposition from Dominic and Alice Elsworth who live at neighbouring Whistlebare Farm and say they are now taking legal advice. They are angry that the proposed poultry unit is just across the Berrington Burn from where they keep 800 pigs and warned that keeping pigs and poultry in close proximity increased potential for a salmonella outbreak.

Concerns had also been raised that ammonia generated by the poultry unit will kill trees and crops and pollute the burn, which runs into the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Berwick Borough Council admitted it lacked the expertise to make a decision in-house but had recommended approval after receiving advice from experts. Planning chairman, Coun Brian Douglas, used his casting vote to call for a site visit so members could take a look themselves. The committee voted unanimously in favour of consenting the application and were satisfied with the site location.

Mrs Watson added: "Never has it been more important for British Farming to produce first class food, minimising food miles in the most efficient manner. Consent of this poultry house and its subsequent production shall enable us to do exactly that. "The eggs shall be produced to the Lion Quality mark standard, recognised by the Lion stamp on the egg whose three fundamentals are disease prevention, hygiene and bio-security."