A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to bring a 38,000 bird poultry rearing unit to upper Abergele is back before planners.

Residents have until Christmas Day to make their voices heard on the application to Conwy County Borough Council's (CCBC) planning committee for the proposed unit and silos on the protected Y Fron, Twyll Llwynog site of special scientific interest.

While a similar proposal was withdrawn in June following 111 objections – and 36 letters of support – in public consultation, residents of nearby hamlet the Fox Hole are concerned that a similar ground swell of opposition is in peril due to “application fatigue”.

Heather Gartside, a resident of the Fox Hole, said:"It's bad news for all in upper Abergele, we all had a nasty feeling that it would come back and we were right.

"The rumour mill beforehand had picked up that they would be submitting it now as the thought was that being so close to Christmas, everyone would be too busy to do much about opposing it and that Abergele may be suffering application fatigue after fighting so hard against the proposed Anwyl housing development of 73 dwellings on a green field site off Llanfair Road in upper Abergele.

"This application has caused a lot of distress and upset to many people, not just the residents of Foxhole. Personally, we don’t feel fatigue – we are all genuinely very angry and just as determined to oppose this second application with as much energy as last time."

The application has been put forward by Abergele farmers ER & EW Roberts. The farmers are aiming to diversify their business, which currently rears sheep on the 12-acre Y Fron site.

The proposals include the erection of the poultry rearing unit, feed silos and an office unit for the operation which will rear newly hatched chicks over an 18-week period before transportation to free range farms.

In September, a similar operation for 32,000 birds was given the go ahead by CCBC at a site on Bron Heulog Road in Llanfairtalhaiarn, near Abergele.

Among the changes in this latest application include the removal of several oak trees and a section of mature hedgerow for a new track to help ease traffic increases caused by heavy goods vehicles to the site, as well as planting around the farm to mitigate the visual impact.

Concerns remain about the 1,900 square-metre unit’s proximity to Abergele hospital, the impact of odour and noise as well as the potential for increased ammonia draining into the eco system from chicken manure. Fears have also been raised over the potentially devastating impact for protected lesser horseshoe bats roosting 400 metres away in Coed y Gopa.

In the previous application, Mrs Gartside and other residents were been backed by TV presenter Iolo Williams, the campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales and the Woodland Trust.

In a consultation report by National Resource Wales development planning advisor Siôn M Williams is satisfied with manure management and drainage plans, however is unable to confirm whether the proposal will be detrimental to protected species.