FRIDAYS has said it hopes to build a new farm complex housing up to 192,000 free-range hens in three sheds at a cost of £8m.

The Cranbrook-based egg packer said it hoped to submit plans later in the year for the development, which would be sited on land at Reed Court Farm at Chainhurst, near Hunton.

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Solar panels would be installed to make the site carbon natural.

As part of the development, the firm said it would plant 36,000 trees to create 20ha of new woodland and woodland pasture with a mixture of native species.

Fridays’ said the expansion was needed to meet growing demand for UK-produced free-range eggs and has set up a website to explain its plans to the public.

In addition to the new farm and woodland, Fridays said it would create a new public access route along the River Buelt to the north of the farm, by applying to re-route existing public rights of way.

High welfare

Graham Fuller, production manager at Fridays, said: “Like our other nearby free-range farms, we will operate to the highest standards of animal welfare and our approach has been praised by the highly respected organisation Compassion in World Farming.

“If approved, we will be able to plant 36,000 trees, which is more three times the number of trees at the National Pinetum at Bedgebury.”

Mr Fuller added that manure would be removed twice a week, and sent to an anaerobic digester to produce compost and biogas.

Fridays is hoping to submit a planning application to Maidstone Borough Council later this year.