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Farmers who say their local environment is blighted by emissions from a nearby pet crematorium went to London's app...
Farmers who say their local environment is blighted by emissions from a nearby pet crematorium went to London's appeal court yesterday in a test case of vital environmental importance.

Family-run Thornby Farms is challenging Daventry DC's December 1998 decision to authorise Timeright Ltd to increase the total capacity of its animal incineration facility at Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, to 650kg per hour.

Their case was rejected by high court judge, Mr justice Collins, in July last year, but now they are fighting on before three of England's most senior judges at London's court of appeal.

Thornby Farms, which owns 200 acres near the incineration plant, is run by a partnership of Miss Ann Barlow, who lives in the farm house, and her brother's company, H.S. Barlow Properties Ltd.

Their lawyers claim the council failed to consider other, more environmentally friendly, techniques of disposing of 40-50 tonnes of animal remains - mainly dead pets from veterinary practices and the People's Dispensary For Sick Animals - each week.

Dr David Wolfe, representing Thornby Farms, told the appeal court the council had failed in its duty to ensure air pollution was minimised under the Environmental Protection Act.

It had, he alleged, also failed to fully investigate whether the incineration methods being used were the 'best available technique not entailing excessive expense' (BATNEEC) under European Union regulations.

Dr Wolfe argued the animal remains are 'waste' within the meaning of the EU Waste Framework Directive so that the council is under a strict and directly enforceable duty to only approve disposal or recycling methods that pose no threat to the environment or human health or nuisance through noise or odours.

The crematorium, which also has public playing fields and a bowling green nearby, began operating in 1990 but at a capacity far lower than that which can be obtained under the 1998 authorisation,

Dr Wolfe said there had been great concern locally over emissions from the plant which now operates two large incinerators and two smaller ones and includes a clinical waste transfer station.

The plant had expanded to such an extent in recent years that it could now only 'euphemistacally' be called a pet crematorium. It incinerates animal carcasses drawn from a wide geographic area.

He argued that the emission limits imposed by the council had in any vent been set higher than could in fact be reasonably achieved by the modern incineration equipment on the site.

The case is being heard by Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Robert Walker and Mr Justice Laddie. The hearing, expected to last five days, continues.


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