ALMOST 400 people have signed a petition opposing plans for 91 acres of county fields to be covered with polytunnels. Applicant George Leeds wants to install 11 blocks of polytunnels for strawberry table top production on land at Lodge Farm and Highway Farm off Monkton Farm Lane, in Ocle Pychard. But more than 100 objections have been lodged against the plans and a petition calling for Herefordshire Council planners to reject the scheme has been signed by 382 people. The petition set up by local resident Kathie Barrs reads: “We urge you to stop the spread of ‘polyblight’ by refusing planning permission for yet another, industrial-scale polytunnel development that will benefit neither the local community nor the environment.” The scheme includes plans for the siting of 72 caravan pitches for seasonal workers with a mini sewage treatment plant and worker facilities within existing farm buildings at Lodge Farm. However, many residents fear the proposals would hurt tourism, increase flood risk, add heavy traffic to local roads and hurt the environment if approved. They also say the polytunnels would be a dominant feature that could be seen from historical footpaths. Objector Bill Langford said: “This project would be of absolutely no benefit to the local community. “This would not be an agricultural enterprise producing staple foods but a ‘factory’ producing luxury foods such as strawberries and other soft fruit and, as such, totally unnecessary as there is already a whole plethora of similar operations within the county.” Architects working on the scheme say they have conducted a visual impact assessment and have prepared a landscaping plan to form buffer zones. They say plans are an opportunity to re-create commercial apple orchard enclosures which were characteristic of the historical ordnance survey maps up until the mid-20th-century. The area within the application site is 159 acres, of this 91 acres will be covered with polytunnels, the remaining 68 acres will be used to provide the seasonal workers campsite, worker facilities, cold storage, access tracks, ecological, landscaping and water management enhancement measures. A separate planning application will be made to convert two existing agricultural buildings at Lodge Farm to homes for permanent agricultural workers and managers involved in the operation. County planners are expected to decide on the scheme by September 12. Residents can access the online petition at .