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Another pig unit development given green light despite welfare opposition

12th Oct 2016 / By Alistair Driver

Another proposed pig unit has been given the go ahead despite opposition from local residents and animal welfare campaigners.

piglet2The NPA, which supported the application, has welcomed the decision by Shropshire Council’s north planning committee to unanimously approve farmer Lee Gilbert’s proposed 2,000-pig rearing unit, near Market Drayton.

A total of 128 letters were sent in opposition to the plans as part of a campaign launched by vegan animal rights campaign group Viva!, according to the Shropshire Star. 

A further 17 objections were made by residents, local farms, a pub and Adderley Parish Council, focusing mainly on noise from the pigs, potential water pollution and increased traffic.

But Richard Denison, case officer for the council, also highlighted the letters received in support of the plans, including one from NPA policy services manager Lizzie Wilson, as well letters from fellow farmers.

The NPA letter was also referenced by councillors during the hearing and played a significant role in securing the support of planning officers and councilors, according to Mr Gilbert’s advisors.

Food security

In the letter, Lizzie pointed out the UK is now only approximately 45 per cent self-sufficient in pigmeat and needs to commit to not only local but global food security. 

“Historically producers have been unable to reinvest in new buildings, equipment and technology due to poor profitability which has impacted on productivity and our ability to compete with cheaper imported pigmeat. UK agriculture has consequently tried where possible to improve and drive efficiency and has increased in terms of scale to facilitate this progression, comparable to any other business,” she wrote.

But she also addressed concerns over the scale of the unit, describing it as a ‘medium sized enterprise which will conform to high welfare and management standards’ and stressed comparisons to huge US and Canadian pig businesses were entirely ill-founded.

The letter also addressed concerns about odour and the impact of the unit on the environment, traffic levels and human health.

Councillor Pauline Dee, member of Shropshire Council’s north planning committee, said:

“What got my vote was currently only 46 per cent of our pork comes from this country. Hopefully these plans will lead to a successful business.”

Mr Denison said the applicant had grown up in the local area and worked on farms during his childhood and was now seeking to set up his own farming enterprise.

He said the development would deliver ‘high welfare and management standards’, including quarterly monitoring of herd health and welfare.

Upton success

The positive decision in Shropshire follows hot on the heels of the decision to give the go-ahead to a 2000-pig unit at Upton in Lincolnshire, despite 7,500 people signing a petition opposing it on the back of a campaign led by Animal Aid.

Lizzie welcomed the Market Drayton decision. She said: “This highlights yet again that interference from animal rights organisations based on scurrilous animal welfare claims simply does not work.  It’s not a planning consideration and it’s not credible.

“We will continue, as an industry, to promote our high production standards and fight for planning permission to ensure we are able to meet government’s post Brexit objectives to improve animal welfare and increase productivity, efficiency and our export potential.”