Will the chickens really cross the road? Poultry underpass plan objections

The route will allow the birds to safely avoid the 60mph road running near the farm in Gifford, East Lothian.

Will the chickens really cross the road? Poultry underpass plan objections Getty Images

A bid to build an underpass for chickens to cross a country road is being opposed amid claims there is no evidence the birds will use it.

The proposed 18 metre long tunnel under the 60mph road, near Gifford, in East Lothian, is being planned by a local free range egg farm to give its flock more room to roam.

However, a report due to go before East Lothian Council’s planning committee next week revealed the local community council had raised objections.

It said Humbie, Bolton, East and West Saltoun Community Council had argued the investment in the underpass is not justified by the egg production operations, will close the road for six days and lead to “visually inappropriate” road safety barriers.

The community council added “no evidence exists to indicate that hens will use an underpass to access additional range space”.

East Lothian Eggs Limited, which is based at Howden Farm, near Gifford, was last year given the go-ahead to double its flock from 32,000 chickens to 64,000 by adding a new shed.

But it said it needed to find a way for the flock to be allowed more space to meet free range standards by spreading their wings into a field on the other side of the road from their current home.

In the application to East Lothian Council, planning consultants Cogeo said the farm needed to provide a minimum ranging area of land outside the sheds.

A road safety report on the plans said the underpass would be used by the chickens to roam on either side of the 60mph rural road and would have openings which would be 2.5 metres wide and 1.5 metres high.

The application, which is recommended for approval by planning officers has been called before the meeting of elected members by local councillor Donna Collins due to “to local concerns raised about the application”.

The report from planners says as well as the community council objections, the council has received one public objection to the plans claiming a lack of information about the proposal had been put forward and pointing out the farm owners knew they would need the additional space before expanding the flock.

Planning officers recommend the plans for approval pointing out it falls within the demands of the local development plan.

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