Bishopdale farmer gets slurry lagoon approval

The Town Head Farm circular slurry store will be built behind the trees on the hillside.

A dairy farmer in Thoralby has received planning permission to build the largest circular slurry store in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

At nearly 41 metres in diameter and five metres in height, the store will be able to hold six months’ worth of slurry from Town Head Farm’s 600 cows, or 6,005 cubic metres in total.

It will be made from concrete panels and built into the hillside north of the village in a carefully sited position screened by trees and the lie of the land.

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This week’s planning committee meeting heard that the store would result in environmental benefits, as it would mean the farmer – Michael Lancaster – would no longer need to spread muck in the winter months, when high rainfall can cause run-off and river pollution.

It would also mean muck could be applied at the right time to match the nutrient uptake of the grass.

YDNPA deputy chairman, Ian McPherson, said:  “The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority recognises the critical role farmers play in looking after this treasured landscape, and in keeping local communities strong.

“We want to do all we can to support them, and in this case I would like to congratulate the applicant for investing in dairy, an iconic Dales industry which has suffered a lot in recent years.

“Getting permission to build a massive industrial structure high up on a hillside in a protected landscape was always going to be a challenge – and late last year a first set of plans was knocked back.

“The applicant listened to our concerns and came back with a fresh proposal.

“Despite its scale, the slurry store will be sensitively sited so that it should not have an intrusive impact on the visual quality of the landscape of Bishopdale.

“This case shows once again that wherever possible, our planning service will work with an applicant to get a successful outcome.  In the past five years, we’ve approved more than 95% of all agricultural building applications.”

The applicant’s agent, John Akrigg of WBW Surveyors Ltd, said: WBW Surveyors are pleased to have secured for our client planning permission for a major new development within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  Continued discussion and negotiation allowed a way forward to be found.

“The granting of planning permission is a good outcome that will allow the applicant to develop his farm business without detriment to the National Park.”

The Thoralby Town Head Farm store will be able to hold 6005 cubic metres of slurry (1,323,532 gallons).

It is thought that that will make it the largest slurry store of its kind in the national park, as it exceeds the size of the new circular tank at Green Farm, Rylstone, which received planning permission in May 2013 and stores 5457 cubic metres(1.25 million gallons ) of slurry.

The largest slurry store of any kind in the Park is thought to be the 100 metres by 50 metres rectangular ‘slurry lagoon’ at Gildersbeck Farm, Melmerby, which was given retrospective approval in March 2013.

In second place is thought to be the 70m by 40m slurry lagoon at Town Head Farm in Drybeck in Eden.

Larger than two Olympic swimming pools, the lagoon stores in the region of 1.5 million gallons of slurry.

It was granted planning permission by Eden District Council in 2015 (the YDNPA became the planning authority for Drybeck only in 2016, when the Park’s boundaries were extended).