English soft fruit growers have scored a major victory over polytunnels after forcing Herefordshire County Council to back down on its policy of mandatory planning permission.

The council decided to withdraw immediately the planning rules it put in place last Christmas to avoid facing a judicial review initiated by grower Neil Cockburn. With the county producing 20% of Britain's soft fruit, there were fears the extra cost and work could put growers off.

"We're pleased with the news after a year of uncertainty for growers in the county and across England," said Phil Hudson, NFU chief horticulture adviser. "If the council had continued with the policy, other councils could have followed suit."

Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits, said it was a vital decision for the berry industry, which he called "one of British agriculture's main success stories". Category retail sales have grown 38% to £282m this year, according to figures from BSF.