Town kicks up a stink over 'Titan' pig farm

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The Independent Online

Building an industrial-scale pig farm containing up to 25,000 animals would infringe the human rights of the people living close to the unit, according to legal advice.

Campaigners opposed to the planned mega-farm have been told by counsel that siting the farm close to homes in Foston, Derbyshire, would pose serious health risks to the people living there.

Among the biggest concerns cited by the campaigners is the claim that people living within 150 metres of a large pig farm would be exposed to "multi-drug resistant organisms".

The Midland Pig Producers (MPP) development would be within 150m of Foston Hall women's prison, which is home to 290 prisoners, and within 75m of the nearest residential properties.

The Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, Foston Community Forum and campaigning film-makers Pig Business, have written a joint letter to Derbyshire County Council demanding the authority take into account the infringement of human rights the farm will cause.

"Research suggests that within a certain distance of such facilities there are likely to be emissions such as ammonia and bio-aerosols in concentrations that are potentially harmful to human health," they wrote.

Warning that such a risk to health was a breach of the right to family life under human rights legislation, they added: "The right to private and family life prevents not just physical incursions into the home or residence, but also interference from things such as noise, smell, emissions. Any serious effect of this nature may result in a breach of Article 8 rights if it prevents the person concerned from enjoying the amenities of their home."

Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association and an organic pig farmer in East Anglia, said: "If large pig units pose an additional risk to human health that's something the planning authorities have to deal with. The larger the unit the more likely the risk is to draw in nearby residences."

Objections to the smells and noises that might come from the farm are being dealt with separately. If the project goes ahead it will be the third biggest pig farm in the UK and could send 1,000 animals for slaughter every week.

Victoria Martindale, of the Foston community forum, said: "As a medical professional I am concerned about the health risks this proposal will bring to local residents. Those living in the closest vicinity to the proposed site include the most susceptible and at risk groups such as children, the elderly and individuals already with known respiratory and other diseases."

MPP was unavailable for comment last night but on its website it described the proposed farm as "potentially one of the most exciting developments in farming for many years, already hailed as the next Agricultural Revolution".