Huge £40m feed mill is vital for poultry industry, says firm
- Credit: 2Agriculture / Sarah Lucy Brown
The firm planning a £40m feed mill at Snetterton says the huge building is vital for the region's poultry industry - despite angry opposition from villagers.
2Agriculture wants to build the 40m-high milling tower, along with grain silos and office buildings, on a site off Chalk Lane.
The feed manufacturer says a modern facility is urgently needed to sustain poultry farms which are a key part of East Anglia's agricultural economy.
But the plans have provoked objections from neighbouring villagers and parish councils, who claim it would be a "blot on the landscape", built outside the agreed local development plan area.
However, 2Agriculture bosses say the location, next to the similarly-industrial Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant, is central to their customer base across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Managing director Kevin Sketcher said the size of the structure is necessary for the gravity-fed milling process, and the new energy-efficient facility would make huge savings in food miles and carbon emissions.
If the plans are approved by Breckland Council, the site would employ around 100 people and see up to £40m invested in the region.
Mr Sketcher said: "This is a big thing for the company, but also for the wider industry. It is a big building but we want to explain why we need to do it.
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"The pig and poultry industries are huge employers, and Norfolk and Suffolk is the largest area for poultry.
"There has been a lot of investment in processing plants and farms in recent years, but the feed industry is lacking investment, so mills are very old, technology has moved on, and we need to modernise what we are doing to help lift the whole supply chain up to the correct standards for the 21st century, and for the industry to remain competitive against other parts of the world."
The proposed mill would replace the firm's 60-year-old mill at Stoke Ferry in west Norfolk.
Chief financial officer Gavin Berry said the height of the tower was essential for the gravity-fed milling process which would make a "massive saving in electricity".
"All along this process, we have been looking at how to improve the carbon footprint and be more beneficial for the environment," he said.
"That's through mill design, location and equipment within the mill to be as energy-efficient as possible.
"If we were to map out the farms we supply to, the location of Snetterton is much better than some other areas we looked at. It means we can bring the feed closer to our farms, while still remaining in East Anglia at a good location for inputs of grain.
"It is a big building, but we felt it was a suitable place because it is next to the power station, there is already a large industrial unit there and there are other industrial areas very close by.
"We will try to make the aesthetics of the mill merge into the landscape as best we can, but the area is very flat - but it is also the largest area in the UK for poultry production, and poultry growing cannot survive without the feed mill. So it is about getting that balance."
Snetterton Parish Council chairman Helen Foley said the visual impact of the mill, along with increased traffic, would "affect day to day life" in the surrounding villages.
"This building is absolutely vast, it is going to be an absolute blot on our landscape," she said. "The highest point is over 40m high, so don't put it on a high-rise plot. That plot is quite high, the other side of the A11 is completely different.
"And this is outside the local development plan. We are not happy with that. I know Snetterton is a very good logistical point, but we are still a village and people forget that. It should go somewhere more suitable."