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Estate residents draw battle lines against polytunnel development

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An entire Angus rural community has sounded a battle cry against plans for 50 acres of polytunnels in a field next to their homes.

Residents from all nine properties on the estate have objected and described the field as “wholly unsuitable” for the proposed development by Geddes Farms for strawberry growing.

Ten separate local planning applications have now been submitted for the erection of polytunnels and associated works at the former Redcastle Farm estate near Lunan Bay.

The applications relate to the proposed erection of 10 separate phases of polytunnel development at the agricultural field with each roughly measuring 1.98-1.99 hectares.

Resident David Mackay said the community has no objection to any of the firm’s polytunnel fruit operations in the area but other fields would have been “more suitable”.

He said the polytunnels being erected adjacent to private properties would have a “detrimental impact” on the community “for a multitude of reasons”.

David Mackay
David Mackay

“Geddes Farms have an existing major polytunnel operation at nearby Ironshill Farm,” he said.

“The field referred to is approximately 50 acres in size and therefore accounts for 7% of their available arable land size in this, the immediate area.

“Out of all their land here, there are no other private properties adjacent to any of their fields, that are impacted upon by any of their operations for any reason whatsoever.

“All their other fields are more suitable and available in this respect for their polytunnel operations.”

Residents at the Redcastle Farm estate first became aware of the development when they noticed heavy goods vehicles transporting polytunnel frames over the private farm road.

Mr Mackay approached Angus Council for clarity and the local authority told Geddes Farms the polytunnels did not constitute permitted development and would require planning permission.

“We have no objection whatsoever to any of Geddes’s polytunnel fruit operations in the area – indeed, we support it,” he said.

“But most of their other fields in the area are far more suited to this type of operation.”

Danger of flooding, drastic reduction in visual amenity, loss of any privacy and wind noise on exposed polytunnel frames are among the concerns raised by objectors.

Geddes Farms said the field has not been used previously for growing strawberries under polytunnels.

However, field crop rotations are decided on a rolling five-year plan and the decision to use the application site “was taken some time ago”.

The firm has told Angus Council the structures “are not proposed to be permanent features in the landscape”.

An agent said the polythene is on the frames for three to six months per tear and will be removed at the end of the strawberry season, leaving only the metal hoops.

Geddes Farms have been growing soft fruit for more than 70 years, supplying major supermarkets across the UK.

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