Pig producers rebel over the very public process of IPPC

UK - It was always a question of when, not if, says Digby Scott. When would English pig producers be goaded beyond endurance by what they consider to be the unbending ways of the Environment Agency.
calendar icon 15 January 2007
clock icon 4 minute read

National Pig Association

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & Whitehall, and with processors, supermarkets & caterers - fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

The issue that has made producers draw a line in the sand and declare enough’s enough, is the enforced publication of their IPPC applications in a national newspaper.

“It will be manna from heaven to our enemies,” declared one of the country’s leading producers this weekend.

“It will be no less than having a directory of all the large livestock farms in the United Kingdom.”

In an email to all members of National Pig Association’s Producer Group, the producer says, “If we go ahead and agree with this demand to advertise we will be making ourselves a hostage to fortune.

“Somehow we have got to manage to reverse this unacceptable policy and if this cannot be achieved I feel strongly that we should consider non co-operation on the issue, because what is being asked of us is nothing more than dangerous self-serving nonsense.”

This producer’s stance is supported by two leading consultants who are currently helping pig-keepers through the complex task of completing their IPPC applications.

“I think there would be total support for telling the powers-that-be where to stick this one,” said one consultant today.

“There is still time to sort this because the adverts do not have to be placed until after the application is ‘duly made’, so it's most unlikely that anyone has done it yet.”

Over the past two years NPA has stressed that publication of permit applications in a single national publication could prove dangerous to the pig industry. But neither Defra nor the Environment Agency has been prepared to reconsider the requirement.

The European IPPC directive of 1996 says that before an IPPC permit is granted, the public must have access to the details of the application.

This rule also covers any future substantial changes to an IPPC pig or poultry unit, so the requirement for national publicity is ongoing.

The Brussels pre-publicity clause was transposed into United Kingdom law in what pig and poultry producers now consider to be an over-prescriptive manner.

IPPC applications must be published in the London Gazette and in at least one relevant local newspaper, according to the United Kingdom Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations 2000.

The London Gazette is published daily. It is England's newspaper of record. Similar publications cover Northern Ireland and Scotland.

But United Kingdom law offers a mouse-hole for pig and poultry producers if government can be persuaded there is a national security issue.

The pig industry argues that attacks by animal rights groups are indeed a matter of national security, because such attacks undermine law and order and threaten national food supplies.

All United Kingdom police forces have a Special Branch for dealing with national security issues and most forces consider animal rights activities are a matter for their Special Branch.

The pig industry can also point to its ongoing work with the police’s National Extremist Tactical Control Unit, to help protect producers from the illegal activities of extremist groups.

Pig and poultry producers are clear that advertising details about their units will attract unwanted attention from activists.

They also point out that anyone who wanted to vet an IPPC application for genuine reasons would be most unlikely to read the London Gazette, or even be aware of its existence.

Before he can protect pig and poultry producers, their families and employees, from the claimed risk of assault and harassment, environment secretary of state David Miliband would have to be convinced that publication of the location of the country’s large pig and poultry operations is indeed a matter of public security.

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