Two councils in the United Kingdom, one in Shropshire, the other in Lincolnshire, have approved proposals for building pig rearing units with 2,000 animals each.
The go-ahead was given despite heavy opposition to the plans from locals as well as animal right groups. In Lincolnshire, over 7,000 people had signed a petition against the project while in Shropshire the council received 145 letters of protest and other objections to the plans.
The British National Pig Association is pleased that finally some plans for larger pig farms have been approved by the local authorities. Lizzie Wilson, its policy services manager, said: “This highlights yet again that interference from animal rights organisations based on scurrilous animal welfare claims simply does not work.”
She continued to say, “It’s not a planning consideration and it’s not credible. We will continue, as an industry, to promote our high production standards and fight for planning permission to ensure we are able to meet government’s post Brexit objectives to improve animal welfare and increase productivity, efficiency and our export potential.”
Like in a number of other European countries, British pig farmers often meet objections when submitting an application for building a new, larger unit or for expanding their existing premises. Often, the protests come from or are at least organised by animal right groups like Viva! or Animal Aid.
Not only do they send their own objections but they also stimulate local residents to oppose the plans, often in the shape of a petition like in the Lincolnshire case.
Now, 2 local councils in England have taken the step to reject such objections and approve the plans. Shropshire Council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans for a 2,000 pig rearing unit in Market Drayton while a similar committee of West Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire approved plans for units housing 2,000 pigs with adjacent buildings in Upton. The latter plan was rejected earlier but accepted now after the farmer made some adjustments.
Wilson said, “This is great news as it proves local councils are prepared to make decisions on the basis of the actual planning issues in front of them. This decision reiterates how important it is for the industry to continue making the rational case for what we do and what we deliver in terms of food security backed by high production standards.”
In a letter to both councils, the NPA also referred to the fact that the UK is only 45% self-sufficient for pork.
The letter stated, “Historically producers have been unable to reinvest in new buildings, equipment and technology due to poor profitability which has impacted on productivity and our ability to compete with cheaper imported pig meat. UK agriculture has consequently tried where possible to improve and drive efficiency and has increased in terms of scale to facilitate this progression, comparable to any other business.”