Nocton Dairies Defeated!
Viva!, with local group Vegan Lincs, launched the campaign against the Nocton mega-dairy in February 2010. The company withdrew their plans in February 2011 after a successful campaign! Below is an overview.
Plans for the biggest dairy in Europe
A plan for a 8,100 cow industrial sized dairy farm to be built less than a mile from Nocton Village in Lincolnshire was submitted by Nocton Dairies Ltd in December 2009 to the local Council. The proposed farm was to consist of a number of massive sheds in which the cows would be kept in herds of 500 under zero grazing conditions -meaning the animals would have little or no time outside to graze. This intensive style of dairy farming is already common in the US. The size and scale of the application meant the dairy would be the largest in Europe.
About the farmers
Nocton Dairies Ltd is owned by a pair of farmers; Peter Willes of Parkham Farms, North Devon (who milks 2,000 cows both in Devon) and David Barnes (who manages Withgill Farm in Clitheroe). Robert Howard, a local arable farmer, was also involved.
Opposition and objection
As news of the application spread opposition from animal welfare organisations, environmental organisations, locals, members of the public, politicians and small scale dairy farmers grew. Issues of animal welfare in relation to indoor housing and zero grazing, environmental impact from slurry and pollution, increased traffic, issues of smell and noise from the dairy and worries over small dairies being put out of business were raised. Over the consultation period for the application 1,138 comments were sent to the council, the majority against the proposal.
Nocton Dairies Ltd owners Peter Willes and David Barns claimed that the farm would give “highest environmental and animal welfare standards ever seen in the UK” but failed to convince those campaigning against the mega dairy.
In April 2010 Nocton Dairies Ltd withdrew to re-evaluate the plans officially in relation to enviornmental concerns. Since this time media interest and mass objection, led by Viva!, meant that Nocton dairies was a national story.
Nocton Dairies Ltd resubmitted new plans to the Council for consideration on 17 Novemeber 2010. Despite claiming to be a revised and improved plan, on reading the planning documents little seems to of really changed. The number of cows were officially to be halved but Nocton Dairies director openly said they still intended to increase to 8,100 animals within 18 months of being up and running.
Mass objection of Nocton Dairies
Public consultation took place from 17 December 2010 to 11 January 2011. The Council was inundated with a huge volume of comments. Over 14,000 people objected to the proposal and we understand that over 99 per cent of these comments were objections. That’s over ten times more objections than the first application (which totaled 1,138) and sent a strong message to the Council to reject the application.
Objections also came thick and fast from consultees, including the Environment Agency. The location of the proposal was over an aquifer which is a vital source for the area and the Environment Agency objected “because the proposed development would pose an unacceptable risk of pollution to groundwater.”
Final withdrawal… and Victory!
The Council was in the process of writing a report to go to committee on the 8 March to decide to grant or decline the application, when Nocton Dairies directors withdrew plans at the eleventh hour on 16 February 2011, a year to the day since Viva! started the fight against Nocton Dairies with Vegan Lincs.
Viva! are delighted that the application has been withdrawn! This is a victory for animal welfare campaigns, environmental campaigns, local people and especially dairy cows! To read about Viva!'s reaction have a look at our media release.
Read more about Nocton Dairies withdrawing in the Farmers Guardian and the Lincolnshire Echo articles.
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