Council planners following advice on chicken farms

Council planners claim that they are taking into account the cumulative effects chicken farms have on a neighbourhood when assessing planning applications.

Often we find that the root of the problem is encroachment. This can come from either the industry or the residential side, but what it boils down to is as the original zones spread outwards, they eventually meet with all the negative consequences thereof.

There is a need to exercise particular care when considering developments which would bring livestock units within close proximity to sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, hospitals, office development or sensitive environmental areas.

Not to get too philosophical, but if no one is there to smell it, does a bad odour exist? But moving industry to new remote locations is usually a prohibitive investment. In other words, the best thing to do is to avoid problems by ensuring that industries and residential areas are kept at safe distances from each other.

It is then heartening to see that planners are learning from past experiences to improve the way they assess applications for new developments. Taking into account the cumulative effect of farms is already a great step into a wider ecological systems thinking.

Here at D-NOSES we think a real-time distributed network of noses would be a great complement to this approach. Local citizens living in the area, armed with the odourcollect app and their own noses, could easily record incidences of odours and their precise location. Backtracing can provide extra information into the path of the odours and serve both as check on the source as well as an indication of the impact area. A growing collection of odour observations can be used as an early warning system for areas that are under threat of encroachment.

It is also advantageous that this could avoid the expense and time taken to do more traditional odour studies. More traditional studies tend to result in a snapshot of odours at particular times, which can be heavily influenced by weather conditions. With a group of citizens living in the area, it is possible to have a permanent feedback loop with the local residents. Even better is that the D-NOSES approach measures actual impact on the community, rather than relying on models and simulations of odour densities.

Read more about how D-NOSES can help in dealing with local odour issues in our Policy Brief.

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