RESIDENTS are crying foul over plans to house up to 24,000 free range chickens on land close to the historic battle site at Flodden Field.
Farmer John Laing has applied for outline planning permission to build a shed for the birds west of Branxton Buildings - just a quarter of a mile from the battlefield.
He has reached a deal which would see the chicken home franchised to Derbyshire-based poultry producer John Bowler.
However, the plan has angered villagers who fear its smell will spoil the experience for tourists visiting the battle site where the Scots were famously routed by the English in 1513.
They also claim it would be ‘inconsiderable and insensitive’ to build the unit where thousands of soldiers were killed.
Branxton Parish Council is among those against the scheme, while there are also 23 letters of objection from local residents.
George Farr, owner of Pallinsburn Estates, said: “The site is on the edges of the Battle of Flodden. With its Quincentenary approaching in 2013 and the many proposed commemorative events occurring in 2012, 2013 and beyond, I don’t think that a 150m chicken shed over the top of where many Scots and English fell in 1513 and potentially their bone pits is a just and fitting way of remembering them.”
Barbara Milne, also of Pallinsburn, added: “Both sides of the border recognise this site as a memorial to the fallen and I am sure they would not like the dead to be remembered by erecting a poultry unit on the edges of the battlefield site.”
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten and the local vicar, Rev Linda Gardham, have also objected.
Rt Rev Platten, who plans to retire to the home he has in Branxton, said: “It seems to us that the positioning of it just outside a village with the prevailing wind carrying all of the dust and smell into the village could hardly be worse.”
Rev Gardham added: “I do all I can to support local farmers but I feel this is the wrong site for such a facility.”
Ruth Shackleton of Branxton said: “I and the overwhelming majority of my neighbours do not want a poultry farm on our doorstep because it will disturb the ecological balance and make Branxton an unpleasant and undesirable place to live.”
But the agent for the scheme has dismissed talk that the proposal will have a visual impact on the battlefield and insisted there will be no odour from the unit.
Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee is being recommended to grant permission at its meeting tonight (Thursday).
A report to members states: “Whilst the site does not sit within the designated area of the battle of Flodden, it is close to the area and the potential for archaeological features/ finds, associated with the battle, cannot be ignored.
“The county archaeologist has examined the proposal and advised that this potential can be addressed by a scheme of archaeological recording.”
Due to the effective screening, planners say the proposal is considered to have a low, visual impact on the surrounding landscape from the south, west and east but further landscape work is required along the north boundary.
The report concludes: “The proposed site is considered to have a low visual impact on the surrounding area, have an adequate visual association with neighbouring structures, whilst enabling ready access to the road network, without unduly impacting on residential amenity. On balance it is considered the principal of the proposal is acceptable.”