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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Objections to slurry lagoon swamp Carlisle council

More than 1,300 people have voiced their opposition to plans to build a two million gallon slurry lagoon.

Robin and Moira Fisher photo
Robin and Moira Fisher

The objections to the proposal, on the edge of Longtown, have been received by Carlisle City Council.

A Facebook group has also been set up to oppose the plan and was used to encourage people to object to the application up to the submission deadline last Friday.

The plans have been put forward by Robin and Moira Fisher, of Smalmstown, which sits past the edge of the town on the road to Gretna.

They want to build the lagoon near Scaurbank Wood, to the north east of Longtown. It would cover an area of just over one hectare (2.4 acres).

The lagoon would start just 500 metres, less than half a mile, from Lovers Lane in Longtown, the nearest residential street.

In their application the Fishers say they need the lagoon to “future proof” their business, which they describe as “a viable modern dairy enterprise directly employing 15 people”.

Currently, they have more than 1,000 cows and are able to store 500,000 gallons of slurry, which they say is not enough for their needs.

The city council’s development control committee was due to debate the application in July last year. But councillors deferred making a decision after a report from Dr James Bell, a chief technology officer with a technology consultancy company Greenviro Ltd, was submitted to officers highlighting a number of concerns.

He lives in Gretna and is a warden at Arthuret Church.

Dr Bell was not surprised at the number of objections which had been raised.

He said: “The fact is we are talking about some pretty nasty pathogens [infectious micro-organisms] floating around the air.”

Dr Bell said these would rise from any lagoon and be carried in the atmosphere, potentially having an impact on people’s health.

“If they stay up in the air, they are going to travel a long way,” he said.

He also criticised evidence used to support the application, describing it as “flawed”.

About 10 members of the public went to this week’s meeting of Arthuret parish council to express their opposition to the proposed lagoon.

Heather Graham, of Houghton, who has led a drive to inform locals about the plans, said she believed it would create a risk to public health.

She suggested looking at anaerobic digestion as an alternative way of dealing with the slurry.

Afterwards she told The Cumberland News she was planning to move to Longtown and take over her family’s business, Silver Lady Wedding Car Hire on Netherby Road, but that might not be possible if the lagoon went ahead as she has a son with respiratory problems.

Another mother at the meeting, Sarah Dawson, said she was also concerned at the potential for smells.

“If they do this, it is going to be constant,” she said.

The parish council voted unanimously to oppose the planning application.

Vice-chairman Gordon Routledge said: “With the strength of feeling in the community, I can only see it going one way.”

Another objector was Malcolm Ward of Friars Court, Carlisle. He said: “The health of the people of Longtown comes before the wealth of the applicants.”

On the Facebook group Longtown Slurry Lagoon Objection, one post from the group administrator states: “We have 581 individual letters of objection going to Carlisle City Council, not including all of the other letters, emails and online objections.

”The council have just said that they have been inundated with objections against the application and have not been able to update their website since March 6, because of the sheer amount of objections.”

Sally Monaghan posted: “I’ve been on and submitted my objection, I can’t imagine anyone wanting this.”

Gordon Eichstadt added: “Out with slurry lagoons, a potential disaster waiting to happen.”

Mr Fisher declined to comment.

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