Bond actor joins anti-Foston campaign

Former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore has joined the campaign against the development of a large pig farm in Foston, Derbyshire, as the campaign’s petition reaches 25,000 signatories.

In an interview with Tracy Worcester, director of anti-intensive pig farm film Pig Business, Moore called pig factories “concentration camps for animals”, saying he believed the meat they produce is “unhealthy as is all the waste spread onto fields... which then flows into rivers and lakes where children swim and get terrible skin diseases”. He also criticised the widespread use of antibiotics in pig factories, saying it was storing up great harm for “mankind in the future” and claimed that pig factory facilities were also cruel to humans, who will suffer the health and environmental consequences in future generations.

The Foston development, which was proposed by Midland Pig Producers (MPP), has attracted widespread opposition from local residents, who argue that it will result in noxious smells and increased traffic in the area. Vegan and welfare charities say the proposal will jeopardise small-scale farms, will rely heavily on antibiotics and will introduce US-style factory-style farming to the UK. The Environment Agency (EA) withdrew an objection to the proposal, after MPP was able to provide information to show that measures were in place to minimise potential risks of pollution to the ground water supplies.  

Last month Midland Pig Producers was awarded a Good Sow Award at animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming’s (CIWF) prestigious annual award scheme, which recognises companies that are committed to improving the welfare standards of farmed animals. CIWF said that the pioneering work MPP was doing in farrowing innovation marked a “significant step forward”.

Tracy Worcester, who dismissed the CIWF award as a “grudging concession” and claimed the pigs would still have a “life of misery”, said it was “unlikely” the proposal would be given permission. She said: “There is enough evidence from around the world to confirm that it is irresponsible to build a pig factory with 25,000 pigs crammed into units in completely unnatural and unhealthy conditions near people’s homes and 150m from a women’s prison with natal unit.”

She said: “Despite Midland Pig Producers’ claims of new technological fixes, this sort of intensive pig production will produce unpleasant smells and dangerous systemic pollution of the local environment. No responsible planning authority would give permission for such a facility to be built, regardless of other issues, such as animal welfare and the destruction of small-scale local businesses.”

A spokesperson for Midland Pig Producers said: “If people do not wish to take into account the information submitted in our plans, that is their choice. Anyone who reads our proposals will see that any claims made regarding large-scale so-called ‘factory farms’ are simply not relevant.

“We have repeatedly said we do not expect the support of those who promote veganism or vegetarianism, but we feel that most meat-eating consumers appreciate the need to produce meat on high-welfare, well-maintained and professionally managed farms. We have clear evidence that shows our sows and piglets are happier and more relaxed in our 360-degree Freedom Farrower pen than in the old-fashioned types of crate used by many large farms in Europe.”

A decision on the planning is now not expected until next year. A Derbyshire county council spokesman confirmed that more information had been requested from the applicant, and that MPP was due to submit this in January 2013, after which it will be processed and stakeholders notified.

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