Plans For UK’s Largest Dairy Farm Withdrawn

UK - Plans to set up the UK’s largest dairy farm were withdrawn yesterday (16 February 2011), announced the applicants Nocton Dairies Ltd.
calendar icon 17 February 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

"We are writing today to North Kesteven District Council to formally withdraw our application for planning permission to build a 3,770 cow dairy farm at Nocton Heath, Lincolnshire, reference 10/1397/FUL. The sole reason for this decision is the response of the Environment Agency, which has maintained its objection to the proposal.

"The Environment Agency’s grounds are lack of information about risks posed to the aquifer underlying the site and uncertainty about the extent of the benefits associated with the change in land use. This precautionary stance and requests for new information reflect unfamiliarity with agriculture in general and the design of the modern dairy farm in particular.

"Despite our best efforts to address these concerns, including an additional investment of £4 million in engineering the management of the waste to unprecedented standards, lack of relevant research has made it impossible to provide the reassurances required by the Environment Agency that livestock farming is an appropriate use of land at this site.

"We believe the Environment Agency has not acted under any pressure in reaching this decision and that no undue influence from other individuals or organisations has been brought to bear; any claims to this effect would be both disingenuous and self-serving. We would like to emphasise the following points:

  • The challenge has been laid down to the farming industry to produce more with less. We need leadership to help us do this and proactive advice from regulatory experts – only a practical, informed and ‘can-do’ approach will move this whole agenda forward

  • "The industry needs to stand up to those who would twist the facts about animal welfare, and highlight lack of investment as the issue, not scale or type of system. If our industry does not tell the public the facts and open its doors to show how we are great at farming in many different ways, then misinformed single interest pressure groups will fill the void with untruths to the eventual detriment of all

  • "The fundamental concept we have been proposing is a sound one: expand dairying toward the east to re-integrate livestock and arable farming, make better use of resources, proactively manage welfare, gain economies of scale, and look to support a long term reduction in water pollution. We challenge other farmers to pick up the baton and see where these concepts can take them.

"In conclusion, we would like to thank those in the dairy industry who have voiced support over the past few weeks – you know who you are – and the many local people who have approached us to express their backing. We would especially like to thank our neighbour Robert Howard, and Ralph and Mary Timms of Nocton who had the open mindedness to fully research the project and the courage to change their position and express their views openly in the face of overwhelming criticism.

"Our other two applications for a pipeline and reservoir remain active. Our farm at Nocton is a tremendous site with much potential for the future, so we won’t be selling it, but will now be taking some time to consider our options. Watch this space!"

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