Battle rages near Culloden

Critics of pig farm will 'fight to the death'.
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Protesters are threatening a "second Battle of Culloden" as they step up their campaign against plans to build Britain's biggest pig farm in the Scottish Highlands. It will be capable of producing 50,000 tonnes of slurry and solid muck a year.

The proposed site lies between Loch Ness and the historic battleground where Bonnie Prince Charlie made his last stand 250 years ago last month. Objectors are incensed by a waste-management plan submitted to the Highland Regional Council by the Oxfordshire-based Pig Improvement Company, a subsidiary of pet-food giant Dalgety.

"We're going to fight this to the death," said Tony Weston of the Highland Vegetarian Information Service which, along with other protest groups, is demanding a full public inquiry into the planning application.

The waste-management plan covers a much wider area than previously envisaged and has split the local community. Farmers sense the prospect of cheap manure but other residents are concerned about the smell, pollution and traffic the project will generate, as well as its impact on the valuable local tourist industry. Up to 24,000 pigs will pass through the 60-acre intensive farm each year.

PIC has identified a potential spreading area of about 90,000 hectares of land within a 20-mile radius of the farm just south of Inverness. The area includes towns such as Dingwall to the north and Nairn to the east.

Opponents say the plan contravenes a promise made by PIC that the slurry would not be spread west of the busy A9 road. "Mountains 2,000 feet high would be affected," laughed Colin Lamont, a local resident.

A PIC spokesman said the plan was only an outline, but revealed that two local farmers had agreed to have the slurry injected into their ground.

"[The deal is] all wrapped up if planning permission goes through and the company decides to go there," he added.

PIC is also investigating several other potential pig farm sites in continental Europe.

Highland Regional Council has received almost 100 objections to the pig farm proposals. Only plans to build a funicular railway to the top of Cairngorm have registered more public protest in Scotland.

A final decision on the pig farm is expected during the summer. In the meantime, PIC is organising a trip for Highland councillors to one of its pig farms in England.