The ESRC funded research has explored the contestations around the impacts of intensive poultry units in Herefordshire and Shropshire. These two counties have the highest numbers of broiler poultry units in the UK – there has been a three to four fold increase over the last twenty years. There are approaching 20 million birds in Herefordshire and 15 million in Shropshire at any one time, with multiple crops of birds a year. Local communities have been increasingly objecting to many of the planning applications and there has been rising concern about cumulative impacts of ammonia emissions and nutrient pollution in watercourses.
- To explore how and why contestations/conflict over poultry unit developments have emerged and who has become involved – their views and concerns.
- To explore the types of knowledge and discourse deployed in the planning process for such developments.
- To explore the impacts of such developments once built, and how they are experienced by residents and visitors.
The research involved identifying and mapping all poultry units in the two counties using planning permission and environmental permit data. A range of over 50 stakeholders were interviewed – farmers, planners, environmental agencies, objectors, decision makers and tourism interests. The research draws on analysis of policy and planning application documentation, meeting observations and extensive fieldwork. I have been particularly interested in how people experience the poultry units in the landscape once built. I have also explored whether there is evidence that the proliferation of units could harm the local visitor economy.
The research is being written up currently and will be submitted for examination before October 2020. A number of academic articles based on various aspects of the research are also planned.