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Pig farm plans amended

By JENNY MOODY

Dark side of pig farming film showing, in relation to Foston pig farm proposals, Burton Town Hall

Marchioness Tracy Worcester

Dark side of pig farming film showing, in relation to Foston pig farm proposals, Burton Town Hall Marchioness Tracy Worcester

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PLANS for a pig farm near Uttoxeter which could house more than 25,000 pigs on a 70-acre site have been amended.

East Staffordshire Borough Council has been asked to give its opinion over Pig Midland Producers’ (MPP) plans to build a controversial pig rearing unit with grain store, on land adjacent to Foston Prison.

However, the ultimate decision will be made by Derbyshire County Council.

The plans are not a resubmission but several aspects have been amended such as layout, parking and removal of the play areas.

Sixty five people attended a public exhibition which was originally held in 2009.

The further information requests required by the council have led to revised documentation being submitted. A further public consultation will follow.

Many residents living near the site and animal rights groups raised concerns over the risks to health this proposal poses.

The pig rearing unit will also include a mess block, water treatment buildings together with storage buildings and incorporating a visitor centre, four agricultural workers homes with garaging, landscaping and parking.

A Midland Pig Producers spokesman said: “After consultation with local residents we made some significant changes to the proposed layout of the farm which was before the application went to the council. “Despite enthusiastic claims to the contrary, there is no UK evidence that siting a pig unit near to residential areas poses any risk at all. In fact, humans are more likely to pass bugs to pigs not the other way around. Disease is controlled by good standards of hygiene, welfare and management systems and has nothing to do with the size of the farm.

“The implication that our Foston site will be comparable with large scale farms in the US is simply spurious scaremongering. US farms house up to 500,000 pigs, we are talking about less than five per cent of that figure and this will still not be the biggest pig farm in the UK.

“Finally, the on-going references to MRSA are quite surprising as there has been no MRSA found in pigs in the UK to date, only humans.”

However, protesters against the plans, including Derby Animal Rights and the Foston and Scropton Action Group, say MPP has ignored years of opposition from residents by not making any significant alterations to their plans, claiming they have just been ‘tweaked’.

Jim Davies, of the Foston and Scropton Action Group said: “Midland Pig Producers have not properly addressed concerns that harmful bio-aerosols, endotoxins and antibiotic resistant bacteria will affect the health of local residents.

“The planned air filtration systems will not prevent dangerous antibiotic-resistant organisms from escaping and nor will the bio-digester kill all such bacteria.

“The lack of scientific understanding means Midland Pig Producers’ dangerous experiment will [make guinea pigs] endanger the health of locals, prisoners and newborn babies in the prison natal unit. There is not enough research to show this facility would be safe.

“We are throwing down the gauntlet and inviting MPP to attend a public meeting - we want them to tackle our questions face to face in real time.”

Tracy Worcester, whose Farms Not Factories campaign has helped local opponents understand the wide-scale dangers of a pig factory farm on their doorstep, said: “The plans have already attracted more than 50,000 objections over the past three years from people and organisations concerned about public health risks, the environment and animal welfare. Celebrities including actors Dominic West, Lesley Ash and Sir Roger Moore have also added their voices to the campaign.”

The UK Health Protection Agency confirms the risks in its Position Statement on Intensive Farming,

“Recent research in the United States found that those living up to 150 metres downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be exposed to multi-drug resistant organisms.”

Sue Weston, who lives directly adjacent to the field, and whose son Tom suffers from a heart condition, said: “Councillors must know the responsibility they hold if they consider granting planning permission for this facility given the damning reports from Holland and the US. There is no independent scientific research that shows my vulnerable son will not be put at further risk to his fragile health if this goes ahead.”

The South Derbyshire District Council unanimously opposed the previous planning application. Authorities in the Netherlands and Germany have refused permission in the past six months for the building of several intensive indoor pig facilities and have ordered some existing plants to be scaled down in size.

Members of the public now have until July 23 to object before the council’s planning committee’s earliest opportunity to make a decision. Consultees have until June 14 to respond

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