Lower Leighton Farm Mega-dairy

Lower Leighton Farm Mega-dairy

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A "mega-dairy" in Mid Wales has been given the green light to be built after an animal charity lost a last-ditch judicial review hearing at the High Court.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) had led the legal challenge in a bid to review the Welsh Government Planning Minister’s decision to approve plans which will see a 1,000-cow facility built at at Lower Leighton Farm in Welshpool, Powys.

But the challenge was thrown out by the judge, Mr Justice Hickinbottom, who appeared via video link at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court. He also ordered the charity to pay £6,000 costs.

The WSPA said the ruling was a “truly dark day for Wales” and said it was “truly saddened” by the judgement.

Campaigners opposed the plans because of concerns over the effect on smaller-scale farms and on animal welfare groups, with Torchwood actor Gareth David-Lloyd, who played Ianto Jones in the Doctor Who spin-off, joining more than 6,000 others in signing an Assembly petition against the so-called “mega dairies”.

The WSPA said it was “truly saddened” by the judgement which it said would “devastate” the local community, but vowed to continue its opposition to large-scale dairies in Wales through the Assembly’s petitions process.

It marks the end of six years of legal wrangling over the plans, which had initially been rejected by the planning inspector. But Planning Minister Carl Sargeant overruled the recommendations on economic grounds.

Simon Pope, WSPA UK director of campaigns and communications, said: “WSPA is truly saddened and disappointed that we’ve lost this case.
“We’ve been working alongside the local community on this for over two years and we can only imagine how devastated they will be on hearing this news.”

He added: “No-one wants to go through this process again, that is why we are pursuing our petition through the Welsh Assembly to fix a planning system that doesn’t fully take into account the impact these farms can have.

“Local councils desperately need the right tools to make decisions around the approval of factory dairy farms. We urge the Welsh Government to listen to the concerns of its people and take decisive action on this issue.”

It also said it would meet with the local community to decide how to cope with the new facility when it is built.

Mr Pope said: “People should be very concerned about what might be heading their way. Today’s ruling is truly a dark day for Wales – it would seem that people’s fears are being ignored by their elected officials
.
“Regardless of the perceived financial benefits favoured by the Minister, WSPA is concerned that this decision means cows, communities, dairy farmers and consumers will be paying a heavy price for years to come.”

The farmer behind the £3.5m project, Fraser Jones, said: “I’m obviously very happy with this news; it has been a long time coming.
“I was 28 when this process started and I’m 34-years-old now, which is roughly six years and it is a shame that it has taken this long
“The charity was told to pay £6,000 to the Welsh Government in costs, not to me. However I did support the application to give the right signals to everyone and felt that two barristers were better than one.

“I’m hoping to start digging for the new venture in the next couple of weeks and will certainly be working on it this summer. I just need to get a few conditions signed off.

“I don’t think there will be too many following what I do; an investment like this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I know a few farmers have been hanging on to see the outcome of this case.

"I feel it should be much easier than it is to create economic growth and to push an existing family farming business forward than it currently is."

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The High Court has upheld the decision of the Minister to grant planning permission for the development.
"It is not open to him to discuss, or comment on, the reasoning behind the judgement of the court.”

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/high-court-throws-out-anima...

In the UK, only 2% of dairy farms keep their cattle indoors all year round, compared with as many as 90% in the US. Concerns over the use of antibiotics on UK farms were rebuffed by the farming experts, who said the rules in the UK were more restrictive and that in the case of dairy cows, farmers would lose money if antibiotics were used often because the milk produced for three days after the treatment finished would have to be thrown away.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/12/uk-mega-farms-food-pr...

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