Planned mushroom farm to be opposed by residents

PLANS to build a massive new state of the art mushroom farm and a supporting anaerobic digestion plant at Littleport are to be strenuously fought by a group of local residents.

Applicants Barway Farms have dubbed the proposed enterprise “the greenest mushroom farm in the country” and say it will create 160 new jobs and produce 130 tons of mushrooms each week.

But resident Alan Rogerson is leading a campaign to fight the proposal, and along with others has employed a planning consultant to help convince East Cambridgeshire District Council that the submitted planning application for the site at May Farm in Mildenhall Road should be refused.

Mr Rogerson says the main objections to the plan are the loss of view; the massive quantities of vehicle movements to be created by the mushroom farm and the digestion plant; and the smell that would be created by the enterprise.

“Imagine something the size of five or six football pitches being lit up in the dark fen,” he said. “The traffic it would create would be a massive problem. It would need more than 100,000 tons of maize and waste food to be brought in each year. Where is the green side of that?”

Barway Farms, part of the Shropshire Group, intend to build 48 growing rooms on the site two miles east of Littleport.

A spokesman said: “By growing mushrooms in the UK, Barway Farms will offset a proportion of the 70 per cent of mushrooms currently imported from abroad every year, and will help to meet the growing demand for locally sourced food.”

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The planning application describes how the farm would be powered by renewable energy from a proposed 2.4 MW anaerobic digester, which would provide electricity to heat the mushroom farm. Excess electricity would go into the National Grid, and the organic fertiliser produced by the digester would be used on the company’s farms.

Peter Sargeant, Director of G’s Growers said: “Our proposed mushroom farm is a truly sustainable development which will be the most efficient in the UK. We have been listening to the local community and in finalising the scheme have made a number of significant changes to minimise any impact of this agricultural development. For example, we have moved the growing rooms further from our neighbours, reduced the height of the anaerobic digester buildings and introduced new landscaping.”

Mr Rogerson added: “This site will be seen from Portley Hill and from Ely; and there is no massive benefits for our local economy and community.”