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Avian Flu

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2007

My honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 for England came into force today introducing a new permitted development right to help mitigate the current increased risk of avian influenza (“bird flu”).

Following the recent outbreak of avian influenza on a farm in Suffolk, Defra has taken measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including the culling of all birds on the infected premises, putting in place a three kilometre protection zone and a 10 kilometre surveillance zone around the infected area and a restriction zone covering approximately 2,090 square kilometres of north-east Suffolk and south-east Norfolk. In all of those zones, bird keepers are required to house their birds or, if that is not practical, otherwise isolate them from contact with wild birds.

In order to help deal with the current increased risk of avian influenza nationwide, the Government have decided to assist poultry farmers and owners of other captive birds by granting planning permission in the whole of England for temporary and reversible works to shelter poultry and other captive birds from contact with wild birds. Landowners will be allowed to erect a building with a ground area of up to 465 square metres, or extend an existing building by up to 50 per cent. Any such development will be permitted to remain standing for as long as it is necessary to protect poultry and other captive birds from avian influenza, but not beyond 12 months. After such time, the structures will either need to be removed and the land restored to its original condition or to any condition as agreed between the local planning authority and the developer or planning permission for a permanent structure will need to be sought.

The amendment will also cover conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty and national parks. Legislation protecting listed buildings and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) will continue to apply.