Nocton Dairies scraps super dairy plans

NOCTON Dairies have scrapped plans to set up the UK’s biggest dairy herd, blaming the Environment Agency for the decision.

In a statement, Nocton said: “We are writing today to North Kesteven District Council to formally withdraw our application for planning permission to build a 3,770 cow dairy farm at Nocton Heath, Lincolnshire. The sole reason for this decision is the response of the Environment Agency, which has maintained its objection to the proposal.

“The Environment Agency’s grounds are lack of information about risks posed to the aquifer underlying the site and uncertainty about the extent of the benefits associated with the change in land use.

“This precautionary stance and requests for new information reflect unfamiliarity with agriculture in general and the design of the modern dairy farm in particular.

“Despite our best efforts to address these concerns, including an additional investment of £4 million in engineering the management of the waste to unprecedented standards, lack of relevant research has made it impossible to provide the reassurances required by the Environment Agency that livestock farming is an appropriate use of land at this site.

“We believe the Environment Agency has not acted under any pressure in reaching this decision and that no undue influence from other individuals or organisations has been brought to bear; any claims to this effect would be both disingenuous and self-serving.”

“We would like to emphasise the following points:

•           The challenge has been laid down to the farming industry to produce more with less.  We need leadership to help us do this and proactive advice from regulatory experts – only a practical, informed and ‘can-do’ approach will move this whole agenda forward

•           The industry needs to stand up to those who would twist the facts about animal welfare, and highlight lack of investment as the issue, not scale or type of system. If our industry does not tell the public the facts and open its doors to show how we are great at farming in many different ways, then misinformed single interest pressure groups will fill the void with untruths to the eventual detriment of all

•           The fundamental concept we have been proposing is a sound one: expand dairying toward the east to re-integrate livestock and arable farming, make better use of resources, proactively manage welfare, gain economies of scale, and look to support a long term reduction in water pollution.  We challenge other farmers to pick up the baton and see where these concepts can take them.

“In conclusion, we would like to thank those in the dairy industry who have voiced support over the past few weeks – you know who you are – and the many local people who have approached us to express their backing. We would especially like to thank our neighbour Robert Howard, and Ralph and Mary Timms of Nocton who had the open mindedness to fully research the project and the courage to change their position and express their views openly in the face of overwhelming criticism.”  

“Our other two applications for a pipeline and reservoir remain active. Our farm at Nocton is a tremendous site with much potential for the future, so we won’t be selling it, but will now be taking some time to consider our options.  Watch this space!”

Readers' comments (112)

  • This is good news indeed. As locals identified right from the outset, this intensive dairy was always sited in the wrong location due to the fragile aquifer. At least this message has finally got through to Nocton Dairies Ltd. We will be watching with interest as to any future proposals and trust there will be much improved communication next time around.

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  • As a farmer who actually cares for the welfare of his cows alll I can say is a heartfelt thank goodness thus awfuk idea has been dropped.

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  • I am very pleased for the hundreds of dairy cows that have escaped a life of confinement. Heres to England's pastures and the cows that graze in them.

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  • This is a huge blow to the area and agriculture. So are people willing to accept milk from other countries where the welfare of the animals is far less than this proposed site?

    No doubt the misinformed protesters will be claiming a victory over this one!

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  • Yippeee! Sorry, can't write more as I can't hear myself think for the sound of champagne corks popping all around me.

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  • EXCELLENT news. I hope that EIA object on grounds such as managing the enormous waste outputs, to all future such factory farm monsters.
    Anyone who believes this is the right way should check out the problems that these oversized factory units have produced in the US.

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  • A great pity that the site could not be developed as planned. The complaints on animal welfare grounds were spurious and based on emotion not fact. The issue relating to the aquifer is also based on doomsday scenarios. Let all those who complain remember that we need to produce food efficiently and to the optimum, this country will soon be 50% dependent on imports, or does food security not matter to the NIMBYs?

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  • While I disagreed with some of the comments made over the last months, (particularly about grass based farming!), I had no other issues with this project and i have no doubt that the animal welfare would have been exceptional, as the other environmental issues etc. I did scratch my head a little about the economics of it a bit! However I believe that it is a very sad day for British Agriculture, when courage, ingenuity and down right hard work is so cruelly crushed. Well done for having a go! Do you think you could graze cows down there instead?!!

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  • To all you protesters and nimbies, you are living in a dream world, the planet is running out of food, china has trillions of dollars as a reserve currency to buy what's left, when are food prices sky rocket as they are doing you will live or not as the case may be, to regret your uneducated arguments, please, please appreciate never ever being hungry, because if you had I am sure you would have a different perspective.

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  • It's strange how the EA worry about a project like this where the waste was going to be managed through biodigesters yet they turn a blind eye to our water companies allowing raw sewerage to be released into rivers and to seep through porous rocks from their so-called 'treatment plants'. Unfortunately the pressures put on the dairy industry mean only the biggest will survive. It will be interesting to see the reaction of those who have been complaining about large dairy farms when they can't buy ice cream, cream fraiche or other dairy products made in the UK.

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