A family farming business which produces about 250,000 tons of animal feed a year is facing enforcement action following repeated breaches of the hours in which HGVs can operate from its base near villages in the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

North Yorkshire Council has revealed it has issued an enforcement order against Ian Mosey Ltd, based near Gilling East, just weeks after granting the firm an extension to the hours it can operate its fleet of lorries to 5.30am, Monday to Saturday.

Helmsley and Sinnington division councillor George Jabbour said he welcomed the issuing of an enforcement notice, but added the reason the situation had continued was due to systemic issues which firms were able to exploit.

He said government action was needed to prevent future such situations.

The authority confirmed the enforcement action after numerous residents appeared before the council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency committee alleging continued serious breaches of the permitted hours of operation by the firm.

Residents claimed HGVs were rumbling past their homes from 3.30am until 10pm.

They told the meeting planning conditions restricting the hours which lorries could enter and leave Ian Mosey’s yard had become “unenforceable” as the planning authority could not find a record of the operating capacity of the mill in 2011.

One resident told councillors: “The local planning authority no longer has the ability to influence mill expansion and increase in truck movements.

“The mill now has an environmental permit for 850 tonnes a day 24/7. This equates to 126 44-tonne truck movements per day or 3,830 per month.

“As the local planning authority is now powerless what avenues are available to nearby residents to preserve or improve the amenities through which 44-tonne heavy commercial vehicles run other than applying for a traffic regulation order?”

Villagers also questioned why breaches by the firm not been investigated or acted upon despite “continued violation of operating hours over a number of years”.

One resident claimed: “The granting of the application would appear to be a reward for an admission of violating the conditions of the original operating schedule.

“It would appear violations are recorded but local voices are ignored.”

A council spokeswoman replied that the authority had acted upon complaints of the breaches, including an investigation following a complaint in 2012 in which it decided to close the file, to be reopened in the event of further complaints.

She said once the scale of the breaches became known by the authority the level of enforcement was “increased considerably” and the evidence had been used by the council to justify launching enforcement proceedings.

The spokeswoman said legally breaches of planning control could only be enforced for ten years after the date of the breach, after which time any breach became lawful.

She added: “The council does not believe it’s powerless in respect of breach of planning control.”

The meeting was told the council had issued an enforcement order against the firm which would come into effect on October 31 and that “local communities can and should report continued breaches”.

The meeting was told failure to comply with enforcement action was a criminal offence.

Ian Mosey Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.

However, ahead of its latest application to extend operating hours being considered, a director at the firm said it was “concerned about the comments made by local residents”.

He added: “Our application seeks to secure the future of our business and the local jobs it supports whilst minimising disturbance to nearby villages.

“It should also be noted that we have received a lot of support from local people who recognise our positive contribution to the surrounding rural economy.”