Sir – Coming from a long line of farmers, I can relate to the difficulties facing the farmers of today. I now find myself caught between the Scottish Government, intensive poultry farming and Covid-19.

I, along with the majority of local residents are opposing an application by Aviagen to build an intensive poultry farm near our village of Murthly, which has immediate, far-reaching consequences across Scotland.

Perth and Kinross Council are considering this application in the middle of a pandemic. Few residents have the full facts, owing to Covid-19 restrictions and the lack of open, ‘face to face’ interactions with Aviagen. We have requested ScotGov to ‘Call in for decision making’ on this and all other Scottish intensive poultry farm applications and impose a Scotland-wide moratorium, of at least six months, on consideration of such applications.

This will give the Covid-19 pandemic time to abate, the science between bird and human transmission to be better understood, and relevant actions taken by ScotGov to prevent or mitigate the risks of the associated risks of pandemic.

To compound the problem, no manure management plan has been included in the application. The 26,500-bird installation is ‘under the radar’ of a SEPA EIA permit. Thus, an estimated 190 tonnes of poultry manure annually will not be under SEPA control. ScotGov stated that spreading of manure in its present form is to be abolished by 2025. How will farmers get the money for the expensive upgrade to trailing shoes and injection methods of spreading? In the meantime, the manure may be spread on land surrounding our homes, with little or no control.

It is time for ScotGov to assist financially the farmers already under the cosh of Brexit and take a hard look at the way they intend Scottish poultry farming to be by 2025. Is it to be like Wales, Herefordshire and Shropshire, awash with intensive poultry farms and vast swathes of agricultural land growing cereal to feed fast-growing poultry, or is it to be based on free-range farms with higher quality, slow-growing birds, requiring less antibiotics and less demands on land use?

The least ScotGov can do is to pause all intensive poultry farm applications for the benefit of all those concerned, including the farmers and its other Scottish constituents.

Heather Tuck