A Forfar farmer has won approval for two large free-range hen sheds which will triple his egg-laying operation to almost 100,000 birds.
But Angus planning councillors were divided on the application which generated more than 200 letters of objection.
On Tuesday, the area’s development standards committee spent two-and-a-half hours debating the Craignathro Farms proposal.
It is to be located on land at Easter Meathie, around a mile south of the town.
Angus planning officials recommended the scheme for conditional approval.
There were no objections from regulatory bodies including the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Farmer Matthew Steel said it was a “natural extension” of the family farming operation.
But it brought a deluge of opposition, much of it around the scale of the project and its position on a flood plain.
Former farm manager’s concerns
Those included an objection from neighbouring Lour Farms.
Mike Cumming, who retired at the end of last year as its manager for more than 30 years said the project was in the wrong place.
He told the committee: “I know this area intimately.
“I know the applicant and in many respect admire his agricultural ambition, but there is much more at stake than that.
“No amount of mitigation can make this a suitable site for what’s proposed. It’s a reclaimed bog.
“I’d be the first to say agricultural development should be supported but not at the expense of common sense.”
And he said the large volume of official documentation could not mask his concerns about the location.
“I have a friend who has a saying for this type of application and it is that bull***t baffles brains,” said Mr Cumming.
“It’s folly to build an intensive livestock building on such a site.
Another speaker, Annie Whitehead said: “This business is a fast buck.
“It’s a pyramid of advantage-taking with the environment at the bottom of the heap.”
Douglas Watt also addressed the committee as the objector living closest to the site.
He said the sheds would be 350 metres away from the front of his home.
Farmer’s faith in major investment
Farmer Mr Steel rejected the flood fears.
“We would not spend the level of investment there is going to be if I thought there was any danger of that shed flooding,” he said.
“To say it is under water for most of the year is grossly inaccurate.
“I would say in a normal year it is four or five days of the year.”
He added: “It is a huge investment for us, make no bones about that.
“Eggs are needed, there is a shortage and it is not going away, we are importing eggs (in this country).
“It will produce a lot of muck, but that muck is fantastic for the soil. We will be using most of that within our own farming business.”
“I’m not an absentee owner.
“I stay downwind of this and I would not build this if I thought it would adversely affect me or my neighbours.”
Committee convener David Cheape supported approval.
He acknowledged the volume of opposition, but said many were duplicate letters.
“I had initial apprehension for this application, but my concerns have been mitigated.”
Brechin councillor Chris Beattie moved refusal, saying it did not meet a number of planning policies.
He was seconded by Forfar councillor Linda Clark.
“The right development in the right place is supreme and I do not see that here,” she said.
The committee voted 7-3 to approve the application.