Why won’t the chicken have to cross the road in East Lothian?

Tuesday October 3rd 2023

Howden egg farm chicken Gifford

The chicken underpass will run under the B6368 at Howden Farm.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

An 18 metre tunnel to allow chickens to cross a rural road has been given the go ahead after farmers told councillors they needed extra room to be able to call their eggs free range.

The underpass will allow thousands of birds from an egg farm at Howden, near Gifford, access to fields on either side of the 60mph road to roam.

A meeting of East Lothian Council’s planning committee heard concerns had been raised by the local community about whether the chickens would use the tunnel and around 1,000 extra vehicles being diverted through a small village while the work is carried out.

However councillors heard from representatives of East Lothian Eggs Limited, which is based at Howden Farm the additional roaming land was required by Scottish Government guidelines to allow them to call their eggs free range.

The farm was given planning permission last year to expand its hen sheds to allow it to double its flock from 32,000 chickens to 64,000.

Local ward councillor Donna Collins, herself a farmer, called the application before the committee after local concerns were raised with her, however she said hearing the details of the plans from the farm operators had “alleviated a lot of concerns”.

She told the meeting some residents had been concerned by the size of the underpass, which they seemed to think was much bigger than planned and vehicles ‘whizzing around’ through it.

However she was reassured the tunnels would not be big enough for people to use and were solely for the chickens who the applicants said were ‘pretty self regulating’.

The committee unanimously approved the plans for the tunnel.

Councillor Liz Allan told the meeting: “Finally I know how the chickens cross the road.”

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