THE owners of a Teifi mozzarella cheese factory have been given planning permission for new effluent and cleaning tanks after installing them without consent.

Carmarthenshire Council’s planning committee heard that Dairy Partners Ltd built two effluent tanks at Aberarad, near Newcastle Emlyn, in 2020 because its previous waste system was failing and required up to 28 tanker movements per week to remove the waste sludge.

Planning officer Gary Glenister told the committee that the council did not condone unauthorised development or retrospective applications but that the 7.8m high tanks were, in its view, considered to be appropriate development.

The two effluent tanks at Dairy Partners' mozzarella factory site near Newcastle Emlyn
The two effluent tanks at Dairy Partners' mozzarella factory site near Newcastle Emlyn (Carmarthenshire council)

There were seven objections to the retrospective application, and two objectors addressed the committee saying their lives had been blighted by noxious smells from the effluent tanks – one of which is open to allow compressed air to escape.

Objector Stephen Rees said he believed Dairy Partners had sought to avoid scrutiny by installing the tanks without consent, that there were spillages during heavy rainfall, and that the development was part of a wider, uncontrolled intensification of the site.

Mr Rees said people living close by were also subjected to noise and light pollution, that HGV lorries came and went between 11pm and 7am, and that noise testing that had taken place at the plant had not been done during times of peak production.

Objector Megan Ceiriog-Jones said she and others were no longer able to enjoy their homes and gardens due to a “foul stench” since 2020.

Planning agent Jason Evans, speaking on behalf of Dairy Partners, which can produce around 400 tonnes of cheese per week at the site, said it employed 75 people and supported 150 farmers.

Mr Evans said the former waste system was not fit for purpose, and that the new tanks had been installed in order to adhere with environmental permit commitments. The tanks, he added, had led to a reduction in HGV movements.

Dairy Partners is also proposing to create a closed area by the tanks to avoid effluent entering the adjacent Afon Arad in the event of a breach. “All permit requirements will be met with this (planning) approval,” said Mr Evans.

Ward councillor Hazel Evans addressed the committee to say that Dairy Partners was a large contributor to the local economy and that she was reassured by the many planning conditions recommended by the council. She said she understood that some nearby residents weren’t happy, although they didn’t wish to see the factory close. Cllr Evans urged Dairy Partners and objectors to work together.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council supported the application but wanted all planning conditions and legal requirements to be monitored and adhered to. It also suggested acoustic barriers around the factory perimeter.

After unanimously approving the application, the committee heard more about the separate application for five five-metre high cleaning tanks beside the main factory building.

There were three objections to the application and also 29 letters of support from the agricultural community. The committee, following a discussion, approved it unanimously.