‘Super dairy’ forced to withdraw plans

NOCTON Dairies has withdrawn its planning application for an 8,100 cow dairy farm in Lincolnshire.

The move comes after North Kesteven District Council asked the applicants to address some of the environmental concerns raised during the planning application.

Despite the setback, Nocton Dairies said its plans were not dead in the water and it is now hoping to submit a new application for the development later this year.

The group’s farm business consultant Graeme Surtees said: “There’s a couple of issues the Council has asked us to resolve in terms of smell from the development and we have got to provide a model for them to work from.

“The Environment Agency has also asked for more information on slurry management at the site.”

Mr Surtees said the withdrawal was not a response to the strong opposition voiced by welfare campaigners, but was simply a case of the group needing to provide more detailed information to the Council’s planning committee.

The plans for the ‘super dairy’ – which would have been the largest of its kind in Europe – have sparked a fierce debate in recent months as welfare campaigners raised serious concerns over what they called ‘factory farmed milk’.

Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!) led the campaign against the plans, gathering support through the national media as well as social networking site Facebook which saw some 4,000 people demonstrate their opposition.

Viva! had also planned to hold a large scale peaceful protest at the proposed site at Nocton, and while its plans are now on hold it said it would continue to oppose the development when the plans are resubmitted.  

Campaigns manager at Viva!, Justin Kerswell said: “We expect to see the application come back again and we will maintain the campaigns against this development because it is not going to go away.

“We look forward to seeing what Nocton Dairies comes back with, but we remain completely opposed to this development and we look forward to round two.”

The campaigns against the plans had initially been run on the basis of animal welfare, but recent moves to switch the focus to the proposed development’s environmental impact appear to have struck a chord with local residents.

Viva has now been in contact with environmental lawyers in the US, where strict laws are in place to prevent the building of intensive farm units near rural areas, and Mr Kerswell said it was vital similar rules are now put in place in the UK.

He said the decision on Nocton Dairies was a ‘watershed moment’ and could provide a blueprint for future regulation on large scale farming operations in the UK.  

Readers' comments (21)

  • I live about a mile from this proposed development, and have an uninterrupted view of the whole field on which it would be built. My quality of life would be affected in several ways, and the value of my property would go down. How do think I feel?

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  • Happy now I would imagine Geoff??!

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  • i really dont see why residents are being called selfish in opposing this, what is wrong with wanting to protect our homes (in which we have invested heavily) and the environment our homes are in..its just protecting what we have all worked hard for protecting the place we chose to set up home! so this word `selfish' needs to be changed because we all have the same goals at heart, including the welfare of animals and the wildlife!

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  • Perhaps they are waiting til the election is over as then the number of MPs looking for exposure and lining up to object may be greatly diminished. Or am I being cynical?

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  • A well managed modern dairy unit would undoubtedly offer improved living conditions and husbandry compared to lots of old fashioned, poorly maintained, dilapidated dairy units which are widespread yet maybe percieved by the wider 'know all' public as quaint British countryside. People need to get real, successful farming requires empathy with the environment but , make no mistake, it also requires strong business acumen!!

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  • Whilst the argument about the reduction in the quality of life to nearby residents is an interesting one and clearly has some degree of validity, I am not sure how far the argument can be taken.

    For some people, it is clearly preferable to live in a rural setting and the views from such homes are often one of the main reasons for purchasing them. People who chose to live in more urbanised areas or closer to cities are more inherently aware that the development of their locality is a possibility.

    However, it worth bearing in mind that the aesthetic quality of the British countryside is, in general, maintained by farmers. The idyllic nature of farmland is a happy consequence, not generally an intention. The land owned by farmers is there to primarily be productive to farmers who are obviously looking for a return on their investment.

    Without meaning to cast aspersions and only trying to make a general point, it is often with a great deal of ignorance that people buy into a rural setting, as they do not see the land as having any investment potential, merely an attractive expanse. It may, of course, be unpleasant to be faced with a development area and I can completely sympathise about any reduction in property value resulting from the development. But the choice has been made to live in an area of progressive farmland which, the same as all farmland, could at any point be liable to agricultural development.

    The future of British food production and security is increasingly reliant on bigger, more efficient units to keep down costs, both for the producer and the consumer. Although sometimes these can be incorporated into existing businesses, occasionally the need arises for a completely new site to be built on farmland.

    Residents need to bear in mind the view from their window is Agricultural land first, Amenity land second.

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  • If you don’t want the super dairy then you have to start paying more for your food... farmers are being driven to scale up their units as its the only way of making money from such small margins! It’s all very well saying you don’t want it near your house because of the risk of dropping values but the whole thing is being driven by under valued food so you are not the only ones loosing out, at least it’s just your home and not your livelihood!

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  • Thank god that this has been withdrawn, hopefully for good ! It would just need another six or seven of these ludicrous businesses to start up and it would put the entire dairy industry to an end as we know it not to mention hundreds of farmers out of work and no chance at all for a new generation to farm Dairy Cattle.

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  • Honestly, these people that live in villages around need to understand farming isnt all about cutesy wooden sheds and cows with bells being merrily milked on a stool by a miking maid!
    People including farmers need to make money, and until the general british public decide to appreciate us and pay fair prices for their british food, this is the way its going to go - and then noone will have an uninterrupted view of a field - on that matter - I bet our non farming commenteer doesn't ensure he buys british?? Help us and we will help you!

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  • We were forced to leave the dairy industry in 2008 not a decision taken lightly but we were fed up being expected to maintain a small herd of 110 cows (who incidentally had the best we could afford and certainly didn't live in ramshakle conditions!) and get little in return for our efforts which included having no money to reinvest as our capital was being eroded by the poor price paid for our milk. If government hadn't interfered and abolished the milk boards the industry wouldn't be suffering the way it is and there wouldn't be the mass exodus of smaller dairy units therefore no need for these massive factory units. People and politicians wouldn't listen back then when these scenarios of bigger more intensive units were forecast, change was necessary to improve competition. Huh what bull poop!!! It was the beginning of the end, the downward spiral. Won't be long till you will be pouring much processed much travelled Indian produced milk on your cornflakes.

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