Green Party leader adds voice to case against pig farm
Published:  24 September, 2013

Midland Pig Producer’s (MPP) plan to build a “factory” pig farm in South Derbyshire has been criticised by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. 

Bennett said the farm would be too close to residents in Foston, after meeting with the Foston Community Forum and hearing their woes, as part of her wider visit to Derbyshire ahead of European Parliamentary elections next May.

Members of the forum have been fighting against the MPP pig farm since building plans were submitted in 2010. Bennett, who was accompanied by East Midlands Euro candidate Katarina Boetgge, was also told about residents’ efforts against the farm and of the expected impact the development would have on the area.

“It is not only inhumane, but carries significant and unjustifiable costs for local residents and the wider public, all the while undermining the work of responsible independent farmers and a future of robust rural economies,” she said.

Health hazard

Scientist and resident Vic D’Elia claimed the farm was a hazard to health. He said a large body of peer-reviewed evidence concluded “beyond reasonable doubt the important role of livestock antibiotic use in the rise of the drug-resistant superbugs such as MRSA and E.Coli”.

D’Elia added: “Already 25,000 people die each year in the EU from drug-resistant infections [source: Soil Association]. That number keeps rising. If we don’t get control of this now what are today routine operations, could be impossible for the next generation and my children.”

Residents have also drawn conclusions for their opposal from a Dutch government study, which recommends that a pig farm, the scale of which MPP is proposing, should not be within 250m of residents.

Discredited report

Yet a spokesperson from MPP told MeatInfo.co.uk: “The Dutch report referred to has already been discredited by proven facts. Despite scaremongering claims to contrary, there is no UK evidence that siting a pig unit near to residential areas poses any risk at all.” He added that humans are more likely to pass diseases onto pigs.

“Allegations about antibiotic resistance and disease have previously been corrected and clarified by the National Pig Association (NPA) – the national representative body.

“However, to allay any concerns regarding health issues, we have repeatedly offered to talk to the professional medical advisors of those raising the subject, to enable us to clarify the situation and provide reassurance through verified facts. To date we have had no response.”

The spokesperson also said that Derbyshire County Council was waiting on the Environment Agency to decide whether or not to grant an environmental permit before scheduling a final planning decision meeting.

Larger UK pig farms

Regarding the size of the farm, the spokesperson said there were already larger pig farms up and running in the UK. It was also explained that the proposed farm was an attempt to try and sustain the production of good-quality, high-welfare UK pig production for future generations.

Yet Bennett added: “I urge Derbyshire County Council in the strongest possible terms to reject this planning submission, and the Environment Agency to withhold an environmental permit as a matter of urgency.”

MeatInfo.co.uk asked NPA for comment before publication.