Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Viva! claim victory against 'cow prison' in South Witham

Second Lincolnshire zero-grazing development defeated

Release date: 
Thursday, June 17, 2010

TODAY Viva! - Britain's largest campaigning vegetarian group - and local residents in South Witham, Lincolnshire, have been celebrating the news that plans for the proposed 3,000 cow mega-dairy on the outskirts of the village have been abandoned. This comes just months after similar plans for a massive zero-grazing development in the same county (outside Nocton) were withdrawn after pressure from Viva! and other campaigners*. The proposed development at South Witham was on land owned by Buckminster Trust Estate. Viva! wrote to Richard Tollemache of Buckminster Trust on 9 June 2010**, asking him to respect the countryside and pull out of the development initiated by Velmur Ltd. The group started a letter writing campaign to Buckminster Estate both locally and nationally. Viva!'s campaign manager, Justin Kerswell, said: “We are delighted for South Witham and the country as a whole that the march of zero-grazing units across the UK is being halted. It is a testament to the power of local people and national groups such as Viva! that the little guy can provide a formidable opponent to big business. “The development would have gone against the self-professed principles of Richard Tollemache of Buckminster Trust, so we are delighted that it appears he has withdrawn from the project after peaceful pressure from concerned locals and animal lovers nationwide. Zero-grazing is as it sounds: a system of dairy farming where cows rarely, if ever, go outside. It is unnatural and cruel, and puts profit before the needs of animals. It is vital that we stop this happening elsewhere, and we have pledged to fight factory farming across the UK. Ends For more information, contact Justin Kerswell by emailing justin@viva.org.uk or calling 0117 944 1000. Notes to editors Viva! have been instrumental in fighting the large zero-grazing development in Nocton, Lincolnshire: http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigner/planning-application.html The group also launched a campaign to fight the development in South Witham: http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/south_witham.html * including Linda Wardale of Vegan Lincs (http://www.veganlincs.co.uk) and the local campaigning organisation CAFFO (http://www.caffo.co.uk). ** Below is the letter sent to Richard Tollemache of Buckminster Estate by Viva! on the 9 June 2010: “Richard Tollemache Buckminster Trust Estate 9 June 2010 Dear Richard I am writing to you from the animal welfare and environmental group Viva!. We have been contacted by a number of concerned residents in the village of South Witham, Linclolnshire. The reason for their concern is the proposed mega-dairy to be built on the outskirts of the village by the consortium Velmur Ltd. I read with interest in Farmer's Weekly that Buckminster Trust Estate was “open minded about the idea . I also read with interest your comments in Leicester Mercury 'Last bastion of hope for traditional village life'' (Aug 18, 2009): “We are all only here for a short while … The countryside was here for thousands of years before any of us were born and hopefully we can preserve it so it is here for much, much longer after we have gone. Those sentiments are obviously admirable, but seem very much at odds with the proposed development in South Witham, where I understand Buckminster Trust Estate is planning to lease the land to Velmur Ltd. Understandably, local people are extremely concerned about what essentially accounts for the whole-scale industrialization of the countryside. Zero-grazing of nearly 3,000 cows - which is what is being proposed there - is wholly unnatural, and is a practice imported from the United States. People there have given evidence of the untold misery of living next to these huge industrial units: the noise, increase in traffic and potential pollution. They are also quite rightly concerned about animal welfare and potential for disease. Zero-grazing is not about improving animal welfare - it is about maximising profit. Specifically in reference to the 2009 Report of the European Food Safety Authority, which concluded that the factory farming of dairy cows should end, not least because such breeding and practices for higher milk yields are major factors causing poor health and welfare in dairy herds. Animals will suffer, and it is another nail in the coffin of traditional country life. There is also significant concern about the impact on the local natural environment, especially as the development is so near South Witham Verges. The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust describe the area as “rich in flora, and also say that the area has fallow and muntjac deer, badger, fox, stoat, weasel, pygmy shrew and harvest mouse. This development - which is so out of character with the oldest part of the village which it will immediately border - is set to destroy rural life for both people and wildlife. The article in the Leicester Mercury also says of where you live, “In Buckminster, no-one has any cause to worry about the swathes of countryside surrounding them being built on in this lifetime. Please extend this sensible approach to the preservation of our countryside by urging the withdrawal of the participation of Buckminster Trust Estate in the development at South Witham. Yours sincerely Justin Kerswell Viva! campaigns manager