VILLAGERS have expressed their anger and frustration after plans to build one of the UK’s largest pig farms on their doorstep were delayed again.
The development in Foston was first suggested in 2009 and if given the go-ahead, will house more than 25,000 pigs on a sprawling 70-acre site close to the homes and 492ft (150m) away from HMP Foston Hall prison with its own childbirth unit.
Residents are concerned over the potential health risks, as well as problems with noise, dust, traffic and potential vermin and odours.
Protesters say, in the latest development, Midland Pig Producers Ltd (MPP), whose parent company is JT Leavesley, has again ‘failed to provide adequate information to support its planning application’, and have requested a further extension until May 2013.
Sue Weston, who lives near the proposed site, said the process so far has been a living ‘nightmare’.
She said: “We have had the threat of this development hanging over our family for nearly four years - my son has recently had open heart surgery and I have been suffering with ill health bought on by stress.
“This nightmare must end - it proves how ill-conceived the plans are and how the implications on health were not considered.
“I‘m one of hundreds of local residents who will be affected by this”
Local campaigner James Davies felt that it was time ‘common sense prevailed’.
He said: “These continued delays and requests for extensions prove that the Midland Pig Producers had no idea of the complexities involved in running such a scheme.
“As a company, they have no experience of running a factory farm as big as the one they are proposing, and as more information about the potential health risks associated with sites like this become available its clear that the company is facing an uphill battle.
“It’s time that common sense prevailed and MPP withdraw its plans and find a more suitable site, well away from human habitation. Either that or the planners throw this half cocked idea out.”
A spokesman for Midland Pig Producers explained why the delays are continuing.
He said: “The Environment Agency requested some additional information which we are happy to provide.
“However, unfortunately, the independent expert who has been asked to undertake analysis of our data has been unwell, meaning that we could not provide the requested information by January 31.
“Therefore we requested and were granted a short extension.”
The plans for the pig farm have led to a long-running campaign of protests against the scheme and even celebrity backing for the protestors.
The Wire actor Dominic West, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have spoke out against the project, as has former James Bond star Roger Moore.
Speaking about so-called ‘factory farming’ of pigs generally, Sir Roger described such facilities as ‘concentration camps for animals’ and said he believed the meat they produced was ‘unhealthy’.
In a video interview with Pig Business campaigner Tracey Worcester, the screen legend said: “(Factory pig farming) is not only inhuman with its treatment to pigs but is inhuman to the humans who live near the facility.
“The poor pigs don’t mean to hurt the humans but we hurt them, so I would say the real pigs are the factory farmers.”
The campaign group claims the Foston pig farm will harm the environment, endanger the health of residents and cause traffic problems.
Ms Worcester added: “There is enough evidence from around the world to confirm that it is irresponsible to build a pig factory with 25,000 pigs crammed into units in completely unnatural and unhealthy conditions near people’s homes.”
Protests have been regularly held across the area, including a memorable protest in Uttoxeter town centre.