YORK'S MP and council leader have joined the objectors trying to stop a large-scale chicken farm planned for the outskirts of York.

Both Julian Sturdy MP and Cllr Chris Steward have made written objections to the plans by H Barker and Son, for Bradley Lane in Rufforth.

The farming company wants to put up six poultry sheds, each almost 2,500 sq m, and together housing up to 288,000 broiler chickens.

But the York Outer MP and Cllr Steward, who is the ward councillor for the area, say that the large sheds would ruin the greenbelt area they sit in, and the pair have raised fears about the number of lorries it would bring to the narrow roads about the site, as well as odour and light pollution.

Cllr Steward said: "The difficulty of being able to adequately screen such a large development and the proposed heavy goods vehicle movements needed to service the operation would further impinge on this stretch of open countryside that contributes to the spatial setting of the city centre within the Vale of York.

"Although my letter of objection is strictly on the above planning grounds, I also personally object to the nature of the planned agricultural activity, as I do not believe that the intensive farming of broiler hens sits comfortably within the boundaries of the City of York Council.”

Mr Sturdy added: “This application is of great concern to many local residents and I have also raised my concerns with the City of York Council.

“I believe this application represents inappropriate development in the green belt, for which I can see no exceptional circumstances to make it permissible, and I hope that common sense and local opinion will prevail in this instance.”

Scores of objections have been sent to the council's planning department, including one from Rufforth's parish council which cites the traffic dangers on Bradley Lane, the smell, safety worries for the nearby airfield, the impact on a neighbouring conservation site, and the protection of the greenbelt.

The NFU, however, have written in support saying it is essential that farmers like the Barkers can extend their businesses bringing jobs to the area and helping to produce "cost effective" food for the British market.