900 jobs coming to Suffolk?

PLANS for the “most advanced'' chicken processing plant in the world which could create up to 900 jobs in Suffolk and handle two million birds a year have been unveiled.

PLANS for the “most advanced'' chicken processing plant in the world which could create up to 900 jobs in Suffolk and handle two million birds a year have been unveiled.

The proposals have been outlined in a scoping opinion document that claims the new factory in Eye would have a workforce of up to 900 people at peak times - providing much-needed jobs for the mid Suffolk area.

The document has been sent out by agents Plandescil on behalf of Banham Poultry and Vion and the plant would be a joint venture between the two firms, driven by a need to “rationalize and modernize” their existing facilities.

In the document, Plandescil director Julian Riley reports that a “significant” amount of traffic would be generated, with one HGV movement in or out every four minutes across the plant's 16 hour operational day anticipated.

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The document continues: “It is intended that the plant processes five days a week, 16 hours a day. However, with the associated clean down time, dispatch etc. the plant will be manned 24/7.

“It is expected that the total labour force, many of whom will work in a shift pattern, will reach 900 people at peak times, with a maximum of 700 on site at any one time.”

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The scoping opinion document is distributed to stakeholders in advance of a planning application being submitted and seeks feedback on design and environmental issues.

It explains that the steel-framed factory unit would be about 8.5metres high and would incorporate the “latest thinking” in chicken processing from across the world.

Mr Riley adds: “It goes without saying that the new plant would be as sustainable as is practical.

“The plant will be surrounded by an infrastructure of roadways, car and HGV parking areas, bus drop off areas, together with an attenuation pond, landscape and amenity areas.

“Waste water will be pre-treated on site before passing through the Eye Sewage Treatment Works and ultimately discharging to the River Dove.”

Andrew Stringer, leader of the Green and Independent Group on Suffolk County Council, said that, on paper, the plans seemed to represent industrial development on a “massive” scale.

He said: “The scale of this seems to be massively industrial and we would seek to protect existing businesses in the area.

“There's obviously going to be serious questions to be answered in the lead-up to any planning application to generally scrutinise the impact of this proposal.

“Certainly environmentally, as well as economically, this is going to have major impacts.”

Mr Stringer said the factory would have a “phenomenal” effect on the job market in the area but could also unbalance the local chicken farming industry.

Dr Simone Bullion, senior conservation advisor for Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said the organisation had not yet received the scoping opinion document, but would be examining it “very closely”.

She said: “We'll be looking at the scoping opinion very closely to assess if there are any wildlife impacts and comment accordingly.

“Any application, including this one, we look at purely from a wildlife point of view. We would be looking at any habitats or species that could be affected by the proposal.”

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