26 Nov 2015

Protesters take on huge caged chicken farm plan

1:45 pm on 26 November 2015

Animal rights activists opposing plans to build one of the country's biggest caged chicken farms in South Auckland have staged a protest outside the Environment Court.

Protesters outside the Environment Court in Auckland campaign against a planned caged hen farm.

Protesters outside the Environment Court in Auckland campaign against a planned caged hen farm. Photo: Supplied

About 60 people turned out at the start of the first day of an appeal hearing as part of Craddock Farms' bid to build the farm in Patumahoe.

The proposed farm would house 307,000 chickens in ten sheds at full capacity.

Earlier in the year, the Auckland Council declined Craddock Farm's resource consent application, over concerns about potential odour.

Deidre Sims, spokesperson for the group Stop Craddock Farm, said they wanted to see the government back a ban on cages for chickens and have further protests planned.

Inside court, the lawyer for the company opened his case, saying the firm's Pukekohe farm had reached full capacity and has never received odour complaints from its neighbours, some of whom live in very close range.

But a neighbour to the proposed farm, Peta Berry, said they had brought in an odour and planning expert to give evidence in court.

"We believe that all of the issues that we raised in the first court cases are actually still relevant and that includes odour, visual, traffic, noise.

"We are 300m from the proposed closest extraction fan so that's where our living room will be, so we'll have 310,000 hens living on our door step."

Ms Berry acknowledged Craddock farms had addressed the issue of odour, but she said that will make visual problems much worse.

"They have created some stacks around the extraction fans, so instead of seeing...ten big sheds, now we're going to see ten big sheds with 10m chimney stacks on them and there will be a total of 120 chimney stacks at 10m. It will literally look like a steel mill."

Craddock farms are expected to give evidence today with opponents giving evidence into next week, she said.

The hearing is set down for seven days.

Craddock Farms declined to be interviewed but issued a statement saying it has addressed the odour issues and it will explain the systems and technology it will use.

It says the farm meets the new animal welfare code announced in 2012, which is due to be fully implemented by December 2022.