Compassion in World Farming has applied for the decision about the fate of the proposed mega-dairy in Nocton to be taken out of the hands of the North Kesteven District Council and placed in the hands of national government.
The Nocton Dairies circus has rolled on long enough now and is in danger of distracting everyone from the real issues. It's time to cut through all the hype and put a stop to these plans so that more constructive debates on animal welfare, environmentally sound farming and the future of a thriving UK dairy industry can take place.
National implications of mega dairy
Because of the national implications of the mega-dairy plan, and its likely massive adverse impacts on thousands of dairy cows, Compassion had intended to request a " call-in" once the Nocton Dairies Ltd planning application had been validated by the local council. However, on review of the available documents Compassion has taken the unusual step of applying for the " call-in" prior to the planning application being validated by the District Council because we have found procedural irregularities in the way Nocton Dairies has chosen to submit its proposal.
"In spite of the media furore, it is clear from our enquiries that Nocton Dairies has not yet submitted its entire proposal. Key documents are missing or appear to be the subject of separate future planning applications. This would make it extremely difficult for the planning officers to assess the full impact of the proposed plans. In addition, should the District Council end up validating the application in the few days before Christmas, it would give local residents only three short weeks over the holiday period in which to object to, potentially, several separate planning applications rather than just one."
Compassion in World Farming's Nocton Campaign Manager, Pat Thomas
The complete picture?
Compassion notes that documents relating to the reservoir and pipework for the transmission of digested slurry are not included in the current planning application, but will be subject to separate planning applications to be submitted at some unspecified time in the future. Dividing the planning application up into pieces in this way makes it impossible for the District Council to consider proposals for Nocton Dairies in their entirety, and therefore consider the full potential impact on the local area.
In light of this, Compassion has also written to the North Kesteven District Council lodging an official objection on procedural grounds.
Nocton dairies still aiming for 8,000 cows
Nocton Dairies Ltd submitted its revised planning application for the UK's first so-called 'mega-dairy' on 18 November 2010, in which nearly 4,000 very high-yielding cows will be housed indoors with limited access to outdoor grazing.
The proprietors of Nocton Dairies have stated their intention to expand the number of cows kept on the property to 8,000. To achieve this, it is understood they will, when the time comes, make a separate application to the District Council for a separate dairy unit on the same site. Even with an initially reduced number of cows this industrial dairy would still be the largest in the UK.
Time for government action
Compassion in World Farming has therefore written to the Right Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, stressing the national importance of this issue. Compassion also asks him to consider the procedural issues raised by Compassion and to keep the charity's application for a call-in on hand pending validation of the Nocton Dairies proposal.
"The Nocton Dairies Ltd application for a mega-dairy at Nocton Heath, Lincolnshire, has major implications for the future direction of farming in Britain and the relationship between animal welfare, food production, public health and the countryside. As the first so-called 'mega-dairy' in the UK it could open the flood gates for similar developments here, meaning more and more animals will be subjected to conditions which, according to the recent report by the European Food Safety Authority, can lead to lameness, mastitis and exhaustion as well as metabolic and immune system disorders. We urge the Secretary of State to take this matter under his jurisdiction at the earliest possible moment and give it his fullest, most serious consideration."
Compassion in World Farming Chief Executive, Philip Lymbery
Why is Compassion doing this?
The rationale behind the call-in application is that Nocton Dairies Ltd's proposed industrial dairy unit:
- Has huge implications for the Government's national obligations under both the Lisbon Treaty and raises issues under the Animal Welfare Act, due to its likely adverse impact on animal welfare.
- Conflicts with national and local policies on several important matters relating to the protection of the countryside and the environment - these include both planning and non-planning issues.
- The proposed dairy at Nocton Heath is likely to have significant effects beyond the immediate locality - opening the door for other similar industrial farming units throughout the UK.
- The proposed dairy raises significant architectural design issues in the context of the countryside since it is of a size and style more usually associated with an industrial, commercial or prison development.
- The location of the proposed dairy - which will store large amounts of slurry - above a fragile limestone aquifer poses a threat to local water supplies which has not been fully addressed.
- The present planning application for Nocton Dairies Ltd should not be validated unless all those aspects which are an integral part of the function of the dairy such as storage and distribution of slurry are included in that application.
In addition, while animal welfare is not generally considered relevant to planning issues, the documents submitted by Nocton Dairies, and published on its website, seek throughout to use animal welfare as a justification for several aspects of the development. Compassion in World Farming contends that animal welfare must, as mandated by the Lisbon Treaty, be considered in all planning decisions.
YOU CAN HELP: We aim to demonstrate the extent of parliamentary support for strengthening existing legislation to ensure the highest welfare for our cows. Encourage your MP to sign and take a stand against factory farming:
Compassion in World Farming's website provides all the latest news on Compassion's campaign as well as relevant scientific facts about industrial dairy farming. It is also an increasingly popular hub for those who are concerned about the Nocton Dairies proposal and wish to take action on both the local and national level.
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