Pig industry hits back at anti-Foston campaigners
THE Soil Association has been told to ‘check its facts’ after information it quoted in its latest bid to halt the proposed large-scale pig farm development at Foston, Derbyshire, was disputed by an industry leader.
In a letter, signed by Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett, to Derbyshire County Council’s planning officer, the association referred to ‘proposals and recommendations’ by Dutch authorities when considering large-scale pig farms.
The letter said the Dutch Government was considering, for ‘public health, socio-economic and ethical reasons’, limiting the size of pig farms to 900 sows and an overall total of 6,000 pigs.
“This is way under the 2,500 sows and overall 25,000 pigs proposed by Midland Pig Producers [MPP],” the letter said.
However, National Pig Association general manager Zoe Davies said while the Dutch authorities had considered limiting the size of pig units, they had decided not to go ahead with plan.
“The Soil Association has a vested interest. It does not support any large pig farm in any way so it is going to try to find some things it is not happy with. We would suggest it checks its facts,” she said.
“Discussions should not be about unit size, but should be about the welfare of individual animals and the level of stockmanship, all of which are covered by environmental legislation.”
The letter also referred to the distance housing should be from large-scale units.
Mr Melchett said the Dutch authorities and municipal health services recommended no large-scale pig farms should be within 250 metres of residential property.
The Foston development, he said, proposed staff housing just 75m from the unit, while the nearby women’s prison was within 150m of the unit.
A spokesperson for MPP said there were already farms in the UK with more sows than proposed at Foston. “On other points, yet again, the Soil Association is attempting to distort the situation by not comparing like with like.”
In October, the Environment Agency withdrew its objection to the controversial development, having been given assurances there would be no problems over water pollution and any impact could be controlled or mitigated.