Planning agent sparks anger after hitting out at opinions of ‘unqualified residents’ in response to Doncaster indoor rearing farm for 1,000 pigs

A planning agent has sparked anger after claiming ‘unqualified residents’ were trying to hamper a bid for an indoor rearing farm for 1,000 pigs close to a Doncaster village.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 11:20 pm
The proposed access point for the pig farm

Applicant Richard Lodge wants to erect a livestock building for a pig finishing unit along associated infrastructure at Toecroft Farm off Toecroft Lane in Sprotbrough.

But the plans have prompted mass opposition with over 470 objections from nearby residents including from Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband, charities and animal welfare organisations.

One of the three petitions against the plans, set up by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was signed by 22,000 people while another on change.org had over 3,000 signatures.

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The farm on which the new pig facility would be based

Residents in the Sprotbrough area said they were against the plans due to odour, traffic issues, an increase in vermin and noise.

Councillors on the planning committee at a meeting on Tuesday (June 8) mirrored concerns of residents for turning down the application – against the recommendations of council officers who said it should be approved.

The application was deferred for a site visit and will be heard again later this month.

Planning agent Sam Harrison, on behalf of the applicant, prompted a response from councillors after he said consultants were forced into appeals due to ‘opinions of unqualified residents held in the same regard as qualified professionals’.

He added that a range of departments from within the council and external consultees offered no reason why the application should be turned down and that objections were ‘scaremongering’.

But Conservative Finningley councillor Steve Cox hit back and said: “Residents of Doncaster have a right to an opinion whether you believe it is right or not. To tell us that they’re unworthy of that opinion – I find that quite odd.”

Mr Harrison told the committee: “This application is in dire need of some perspective. As agents, we see hundreds of applications of this ilk each year and this is by far and away the most expensive and heavily scrutinised application of this modest scale, which we haven’t ever submitted.

“Since submission of these plans, my firm has submitted four schemes which are entirely identical to this all have been approved, all have no objections, all offer a similar separation distance and neighbourhood workings.

“We would implore this committee to note that these costs have been incurred following two separate presentations to Doncaster Council, one of the planners and one to the highways department, both of whom suggested the application would be supported.

“What’s known as the local opposition to this scheme, it is important for me to set out how misinformed these objections are.

“This campaign is nothing more than a result of scare mongering and conjecture and a fundamental lack of understanding regarding units such as these.

“Put simply, this scheme will reduce overall traffic on the farm which is a fully operational agricultural holding with associated day to day traffic.

“The opposition on traffic is totally illogical. The overall traffic will be reduced primarily due to two reasons.

“There’s no longer a requirement to import large quantities of fertiliser each year, which is spread on crops. The fertiliser from the pig unit will replace the source of fertiliser, which would otherwise be imported.

“The other feed but now parts of the crop which is exported would be kept for the pigs.

“All too often we as planning consultants specialising solely in agriculture force into the appeal stages of applications as the opinions and views of relatively unqualified local residents are held in the same regard as your own qualified professional consultation.”

A number of people also raised concerns around the intense farming practice and its impact on the environment.

But council bosses said they ‘do not have clear evidence’ to justify whether the proposed unit would significantly impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Sprotbrough Parish Council also objects to the development mainly relating to the impact on amenity in relation to noise, odour and waste and detriment on the highway network.

If approved, the building will accommodate 996 pigs from 40kg through to finished weight of 110kg. The site is fully enclosed with the pigs being indoor at all times.

The unit will provide pig accommodation on a fully slatted slurry based system, in which the slurry is emptied twice per annum. The slurry will be primarily be used as a fertiliser for the existing fields

The wider proposal includes the construction of two feed silos, a rain water harvesting tank; plant storage room and concrete loading area.

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