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Say no to mega-dairies

Observer Ethical Awards 2011 (winner)

Cows Belong in Fields was the name of Compassion in World Farming’s campaign against Nocton Dairies – the UK’s first proposed mega-dairy.

On 9th June 2011, the campaign was recognised with the Observer Ethical Award for Campaigner of the Year. The campaign's success was only possible with widespread support nationally and from local campaign group, CAFFO.

On 16th February 2011, after more than a year of campaigning, controversy and public debate, Nocton Dairies withdrew its plans for a 3,700 cow zero-grazing farm at Nocton Heath in rural Lincolnshire.

The official reason given for the withdrawal was a very comprehensive and very serious objection to the plans by the Environment Agency. This news was followed swiftly by a statement from North Kesteven District Council that it had planned to reject the dairy anyway on six grounds:

  1. The failure of the applicant to fully assess alternative development sites which presented fewer environmental risks

  2. The unacceptable and significant risk to groundwater quality, including the nearby public water supply

  3. Significant uncertainties regarding the impacts and control of odour from the operation of the dairy, and associated land spreading, and its effects on residential amenity

  4. Insufficient detail regarding the frequency, volume and duration of operational noise, including from animals, and its effects on residential amenity

  5. Probable negative and adverse impacts to Bardney Limewoods Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a series of Local Wildlife Sites from increased ammonia and nitrogen deposition

  6. Insufficient justification for the construction of on-site agricultural workers houses.

Compassion’s own campaign against Nocton Dairies encompassed animal welfare and environment and it was gratifying to see that points 2-5 were issues which we raised with the local council in our own objection to the plans.

Other serious objections to the mega-dairy were also raised by Anglian Water, the local Sustainability Officer, the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, and by North Kesteven District Council's own environmental consultants, AEA.

We celebrated this news cautiously, in part because Nocton Dairies had refused to withdraw separate planning applications for a digestate pipeline and water reservoir – both necessary for the operation of the dairy. However, within weeks the District Council had refused planning permission for the pipeline and reservoir closing the door completely on Nocton Dairies’ plans for a farm at Nocton Heath.

An ongoing threat

In 1967, dairy farmer, Peter Roberts founded Compassion in World Farming in response to the wide-scale emergence of factory farming. In Lincolnshire today, his rallying cry against the unnatural confinement and suffering of farm animals is needed more than ever.

This website remains live because the threat of other mega-dairies in the UK - and the suffering they cause animals, and the harm that they cause in the environment - has not gone away. Information on these pages provides valuable background to those wanting to know more about the Cows Belong in Fields campaign, as well as those who may, in future, want to campaign against a mega-dairy in their area.

If you believe that cows do belong in fields, please help us stop the spread of mega-dairies with a donation today.