Environment Agency Turns Down Pig Farm Permit Application

UK - The decision this week to refuse permission for one of Britain's first industrial-style farms housing 25,000 pigs has been welcomed by campaigners.
calendar icon 24 February 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

The unit at Foston, Derbyshire, has been the subject of fierce opposition in a four-year-long fight that saw celebrities including actor Dominic West and River Cottage chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall stand up against the proposed farm due to its size.

Now the Environment Agency has turned down the permit application by Midland Pig Producers on the grounds it posed risks to human health as well as human rights.

There is mounting public anxiety that industrial, intensive pig rearing systems cause stress and illness in animals and threaten human health. The regular over-use of antibiotics in such 'factory' farm systems is producing antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The farms also pollute the air and water.

"These factory systems are cruel to pigs," said Tracy Worcester Director of Farms Not Factories, which campaigns for consumers to buy their pork from real farms.

"They are also a threat to traditional family farmers who, though they have a lower cost in terms of human health and environmental pollution, - incur higher costs when rearing their pigs humanely and therefore cannot compete economically with cheap, low- welfare pork."

The Environment Agency’s main reasons for refusing a permit were that the health threats from bio-aerosols and ammonia, pollution from odour and contamination of watercourses posed unacceptable risks. They also considered the rights of the people living nearby under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Jim Davies, leader of the Foston Community Action Group, said local residents, who had been almost unanimous in opposing the plan, were hugely relieved.

"After four years of public consultation the facts are now clear; the applicants provided insufficient information and should now abandon this flawed scheme forever," he said.

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