Animal Aid and local campaigners join forces to oppose the UK’s biggest ever intensive pig farm

Posted on the 2nd June 2015

National animal rights organisation Animal Aid has joined forces with local campaigners in opposing plans for a giant factory farm that would hold more than 30,000 pigs at any one time.

National animal rights organisation Animal Aid has joined forces with local campaigners in opposing plans for a giant factory farm that would hold more than 30,000 pigs at any one time. The proposed mega farm, to be built near Newtownabbey in County Antrim, would be the largest pig farm in the UK and amongst the biggest in Europe.

Plans submitted by Hall’s Pig Farm include a ‘weaner house’ for 11,760 newly-weaned young piglets, and three ‘fattener houses’, each holding 6,160 pigs. Also on the site would be an anaerobic digester for treating slurry, plus a lagoon for holding processed waste. Hall’s currently supplies Sainsbury’s and is part of its Pork Development Group.

Local residents and animal rights campaigners are concerned about the conditions that the animals will be kept in, as well as the impacts on human health and the local environment of farming so many animals in one place.

Says Ben Martin, Animal Aid Campaigner:

‘The proposed plans effectively amount to an industrial-scale pig factory. Incarcerating animals in such huge numbers in barren conditions is beyond cruel, depriving them of the ability to perform many of their natural behaviours and reducing them to mere units of production. Pigs are highly intelligent animals and keeping them in such conditions is extremely detrimental to their physical and emotional wellbeing. If planning permission for this farm is granted, it will doom huge numbers of pigs to a life of misery and set an alarming precedent for the intensification of animal farming in the UK.’

Ben Martin points out that, with so many pigs confined in one place, it would be impossible to evacuate them in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or flash flood. As documented in the recent Animal Aid report The Uncounted Dead: Farming’s Unofficial Victims, more than 4,000 pigs perished in a fire at a much smaller farm in County Armagh last year, and similar events occur across the UK on a regular basis.

Animal Aid also points out that the proposed mega farm represents a major health risk to both animals and humans. ‘The crowded and often unhygienic conditions found on intensive pig farms make the perfect breeding ground for diseases’, says Ben Martin. ‘And with an operation of this size, it is impossible to monitor the wellbeing of every animal. This means that sick animals often go unnoticed, and therefore untreated, prolonging their suffering and further spreading disease amongst the group.’

Local campaigners are also worried about the potential health risks, as well as the likely impacts on the local community and environment.

Says local campaign spokesperson Norman Kerr:

‘We are seriously concerned about the impact the proposed farm will have on the area. That many pigs will need a lot of feeding and produce a lot of waste, not to mention all the other risks associated with mass production farming. There’s also the very real risk of waste leaking into local waterways and polluting the environment, and the extra traffic this farm will bring to a quiet, rural area. The size and scale of this proposal is way beyond farming!’’

Concerns about environmental issues with the proposed factory farm are not without reason. In June 2012, Derek Hall of Hall’s Pig Farms (the site developer) was fined £500 at Belfast Magistrates Court after an officer of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency traced a ‘milky liquid’ discharge found in Three Mile Water River to Mr Hall’s farm.

In March this year plans for a similar 25,000-capacity pig farm near Foston in Derbyshire were abandoned when the Environment Agency refused to approve the proposal.

Animal Aid and local campaigners are urging people to submit their opposition to the plans.

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