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Call to stop mega pig farm in Northern Ireland

16 November 2018, at 12:00am

Sustain member Friends of the Earth warns against the impact that a mega pig farm would have on animal welfare and the environment.

A mega-farm proposed at Limavady will produce 1.3 million tonnes of pig slurry every year. Friends of the Earth say that this will have dire implications for the environment of Northern Ireland, as well as animal welfare.

There is currently a strategic plan called Going for Growth from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to increase factory farming in Northern Ireland. Untreated pig slurry contains high levels of ammonia.

According to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), 98 per cent of Special Areas of Conservation have already exceeded critical thresholds for ammonia emissions at which ecological damage occurs. Friends of the Earth say that the proposed pig farm will create pollution that is equivalent to 12 million people. Northern Ireland has a population of 1.8 million people.

Friends of the Earth believe that the Limavady farm has wider significance for the rest of the UK. Post Brexit, as the UK seeks trade deals with countries that have lower environmental and welfare standards than the EU, what is happening in Northern Ireland could be the future for the whole country. It is vital that high standards are maintained after the UK leaves the EU.

James Orr, director of Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland, said: "Northern Ireland is already plagued by shocking levels of ammonia emissions. Releasing further ammonia from pig slurry into Northern Ireland’s ecosystems will lead to environmental disaster. Intensive agriculture and the associated problems with a massive increase in pig slurry cannot be the path to a healthy future for Northern Ireland."