Anger at debate on Allington robotic dairy

First published in News

Villagers are upset that their parish councillors are sitting on the fence about a plan for a new “robotic” dairy unit in their village.

Oram & Sons, which operates Manor Farm in Allington, near Devizes, has applied to build the new unit on land opposite the farmyard, which will allow 240 cows to be milked by four robotic milking machines.

Objectors say the new unit is far too large and will change the nature of the village forever.

The meeting of All Cannings Parish Council, which includes Allington, held last Wednesday, was led by Adrian Grey, as chairman Charles Butcher had an interest in the application and so did councillors Sylvia Butcher and Doug Tilley.

The applicant’s consultant, Richard Cosker, said the current milking parlour was too small, there was no room for expansion in the farmyard and the proposed slurry tanks would not cause unpleasant odours.

He emphasised this was a substantial investment by Oram and Sons.

The villagers who objected to the building were represented by Philippa Martin, who pointed out that the proposed unit would be the largest building for miles around and would be in an elevated position.

She said the landscape would be changed forever, that it was out of keeping and proportion for the site and that flooding would be increased due to run-off from the site.

Although arguments for and against were put by the many people attending, all want the farm to continue as a dairy.

The situation was summed up by Coun Grey, who said that a balance had to be retained between farming and the residents.

He asked for a show of hands among residents at the meeting and all but one was against it.

Despite this, councillors agreed they could come to no firm decision – neither supporting or opposing the application.

Allington resident Andy Potts said: “We ended up in the ludicrous situation where the council’s decision represented nobody’s view at the meeting.

“Everyone present wanted the council to make a decision one way or the other.”

The three councillors who retired to consider the points raised in the meeting said they would recommend that if the building was approved, the following points should be addressed: full screening with mature trees planted; flood tanks sufficient to hold all run-off to avoid additional flooding; and road improvement at the crossing between the current farm and the new building, with a concrete surface and curbing to cope with the additional traffic of machinery and animals.

As the application has already been called in by the Wiltshire councillor for the area, Lionel Grundy.

It will be determined by the eastern area planning committee of Wiltshire Council in the next few weeks.

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