Farming News - Concerns raised over Foston proposals: weight of opposition has not eased with EA withdrawal

Concerns raised over Foston proposals: weight of opposition has not eased with EA withdrawal

Although the Environment Agency has withdrawn objections it made in May over the threat to groundwater caused by proposals to build a mega-pig farm in Foston, Derbyshire, environmental groups and government officials have said their concerns about this proposed unit persist. Welfare campaigners have objected to Foston, where pigs would spend their entire lives indoors


Midlands Pig Producers’ plans for the mega-farm, which would house 2,500 sows and 20,000 piglets on a 30-acre site adjacent to Foston Prison, are currently under consideration by Derbyshire County Council. In September, the Environment Agency dropped its formal objection, after deciding the risks of pollution to ground water from the site would be minimal.  


However, opponents of the project have said MPP’s plans are not out of the woods yet. Campaign group Pig Business, who are running an online petition against the Foston mega-farm, last week pointed to caveats made by the Environment Agency upon withdrawing its objection.


In its formal withdrawal, the agency stated, “The requirements for a permit are outside the scope of this consultation... Local views will be sought as part of the permitting process and given the extreme proximity of some receptor dwellings the proposed mitigation measures for noise, vibration, odour and light will need to reviewed and updated as time goes on in line with technological advances to meet public expectations.” 


Furthermore, the Health Protection Agency, which was added to Derbyshire County Council’s list of consultees following complaints regarding the risk to human health, has also raised concerns about air pollution. An HPA letter to the council read, “recent research has found that those living up to 150m downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi- drug resistant organisms.”


The HPA stated, "The application does not provide detailed analysis and risk assessment of potential point source and fugitive emissions to air, of odour; particulate matter; ammonia; bioaerosols; or emissions from the proposed CHP plant.”

MPP remains defiant


In the light of the HPA’s verdict, Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association said, “We urge the South Derbyshire District Councillors to take this damming evidence from the HPA and the views of 13,000 members of the public who have opposed this development on board,”


Nevertheless, Midlands Pig Producers remains confident that its plans will be passed later in the year. An MPP spokesperson said issues relating to air pollution identified by the HPA would be covered at the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control licence stage. He even went so far as to say that, due to the filtration systems air will pass through, air leaving the unit would be “actually cleaner than the air going in.”