THE owners of a poultry plant near Wrexham have moved to ease residents’ concerns ahead of a key planning hearing.

Maelor Foods wants to increase the number of birds it can process at its factory in Cross Lanes to a million a week as it looks to expand its operations.

However, the proposals have been met with stern opposition after being rejected twice by Wrexham Council’s planning committee amid fears over the impact on road safety, as well as odour issues caused by the plant.

The firm has launched an appeal in a bid to overturn the decision and increase the current restriction of 400,000 birds per week.

Representatives will make their case to a planning inspector appointed by the Welsh Government at a public hearing in Wrexham on Wednesday.

Ahead of the meeting at the town’s memorial hall, the company’s managing director said proposals to take over a neighbouring business premises would bring about a reduction in the number of lorries visiting the site.

Raj Mehta said: “We understand the reservations of some local residents and are making every effort from highway improvements to environmental measures to mitigate any potential impact.

“The site has a long industrial history dating back to its first occupation by Cadbury’s in 1937.

“At its height in 2016 First Milk, along with a neighbouring HGV business, were generating 189 lorry movements a day as well as having 500 staff based here.

“Our plans will actually lead to an overall reduction of movements to just 72 movements per day, which would be an improvement for residents, meaning fewer lorries on the roads and less disturbance than there has been in the past.

“We are also committed to investing in a substantial package to upgrade the existing road and footpath network which should be beneficial to everyone.”

The state-of-the-art poultry processing plant was first opened in 2017 following an investment of more than £20m.

It was backed with a £3.15m grant from the Welsh Government’s food business investment scheme.

The business currently employs 140 people and said it would create a minimum of 80 new jobs if permission is granted by the inspector.

But community respresentatives said they were concerned about the potential impact of the expansion.

Marchwiel councillor John Pritchard (Ind), said: “It’s mainly the concerns with the odour and also the HGVs using Pickhill Lane at the junction with the A525.

“The residents there are really suffering and they shouldn’t have to.

“They’re only country roads at the end of the day and that road is very busy.

“A lot of people couldn’t have their windows open in the summer we had last year.

“It’s been rejected twice, but we’re now in the inspector’s hands.”

The inspector will hear representations from all interested parties with proceedings at the venue set to get underway at 10am.

They will then make their decision known in writing at a future date.