Haygrove Farm secures permission to retain polytunnels

Haygrove has received a unanimous thumbs up from Herefordshire Council for its revised landscaping scheme, which tones down the visual impact of its polytunnels.

As reported in The Hereford Times, councillor Peter Jones said "polytunnels had been unfairly demonised for the last decade". He continued: "If we want this to remain an agricultural county then we have to support this. If not, it would be like manufacturers working without machinery."

Soft grower Haygrove submitted the planning application for the design, which includes almost 5,000 shrubs to reduce the tunnels' impact, after the council served an enforcement notice on the farm in September last year.

The notice demanded that the farm near Ledbury removed approximately 14 acres of its polytunnels after a change in planning legislation branded structures that had been in place for less than four years "unlawful".

The council felt this was unfair because Haygrove had not submitted a revised application like all of the other major growers in the area had done following the precedent set by a case at Tuesley Farm.

The local authority agreed to grant the grower planning permission to erect a series of polytunnels on Tuesley Farm provided that their visual impact was minimised.

Herefordshire Council is now satisfied by Haygrove's plans to plant shrubs to reduce the impact of the tunnels.

Meanwhile, soft fruit grower EC Drummond, based in Ross-on-Wye, Gloucestershire, has had its permission for polytunnels overturned.

The farm was granted planning permission in October 2008 to cover up to 54ha of its land in polytunnels, but a campaign group has now won a High Court challenge against the decision.

The judge ruled that the council had made an "error of law" by failing to carry out the environmental impact assessment process required by European law prior to granting permission. "Such an error of law means the quashing of the decision must follow," he said.

EC Drummond and Haygrove were unavailable for comment as Grower went to press.

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