RESIDENTS are kicking up a stink over plans to create a major egg production plant housing 36,000 chickens.

Medomsley Organics has submitted a planning application to Durham County Council for the development on land near Southfield Farm at Hamsterley Mill.

But residents in nearby Medomsley have raised concerns over the odour it will create and complain about a lack of consultation.

Medomsley resident Jayne Speight said: “With regard to the odour from the hen sheds the report acknowledges the fact that nearby will suffer an odour from the sheds.

“How can this be acceptable especially as the Environment Agency deem it as an offensive odour?

“I fear the odour and noise from 36,000 hens, even for a few moments will interfere with the use and enjoyment of my home and surrounding area and amenities.

“This surely cannot be acceptable.”

Resident David Ridley said: “Durham County Council planners seem to want to limit the local village concerns as they have only included a handful of households in the application consultation process.

“Only around 20 residents who are about 500m from the proposed site have been informed while around 80 residents over 3 mile away in Dipton have been contacted.

“Something doesn't smell right, pardon the pun, and it smacks of a planning authority favouring a development that would have a negative impact on the Derwent Valley and riding roughshod over the locals.”

The application was submitted by Keith Henderson, a director of the company.

In it he said: “The proposed development is for a state-of-the-art egg production unit housing organic free range hens.

“This unit will be surrounded by 40 acres of newly planted woodland consisting of traditional broad-leafed species.

“This is a requirement for the enhanced hen welfare standards required by the RSPCA and organic standards.”

The proposed site is very close to the communal burial site at Seven Penny Meadows.

Councillor Alan Shield, who represents the area on Durham County Council, said: “There are some concerns regarding the odour and noise issues from the proposed development and a strong belief that these issues may affect the wider area and not just those properties bordering the development.”

A decision is expected to be made by a planning committee but no date for this has been set.

Stuart Timmiss, head of development and housing at Durham County Council, said: “In line with normal planning publicity requirements, we notified neighbouring properties and posted notices about the application at the site.

“We are now giving careful consideration to the points raised by residents about this application and have also extended the standard 21 days consultation period to ensure those that we contacted at a later date have plenty of time to respond.

“However, as is our normal practice, we will also take into account comments received after the consultation period ends.”