Undercover footage has emerged filmed at farms owned by a firm planning to build a new pig rearing facility near Driffield.
Animal rights group, Animal Aid, claim pigs are living in poor conditions at farms owned by YorkWold Pigpro - which plans to build a new facility near Middleton on the Wolds.
It follows an undercover investigation by the group in February at five farms in Appleby, Broughton, North Cotes, Roos and Albrough.
A spokesman for the group said: “We uncovered disturbing scenes, including obviously sick animals in filthy conditions and stillborn piglets in farrowing units where there were live animals.”
The footage - almost all of which is too graphic to publish - also shows heaps of dead animals piled on top of one another and a piglet shaking uncontrollably.
And medicines “medically important for human use” are also seen strewn across a work bench at one of the company’s facilities.
A public meeting hosted by Yorkwold Pigpro was held at Middleton on the Wolds Village Hall on Tuesday night, during which, a representative of Animal Aid put the allegations to the company.
A spokeman for YorkwoldPigpro said: “The care of our animals is our top priority. These pictures, taken by a vegan group, show sick pigs in recovery pens with straw bedding and do not represent the generally healthy pigs that we have on our farms.
“There appears to be some shortcomings in the secure containment of our deadstock and our medicines, which we have investigated. We are in the process of talking to all of our staff to remind them of our policies and shall take disciplinary action as necessary. We had a very successful meeting in Middleton-on-the-Wolds last night and would like to thank everyone who came to listen to our presentation.
“There was a healthy mix of objectors and supporters from people within the local community and we feel that we were able to answer all of the questions positively.
“Odour and traffic appeared to be the main concerns. We explained in detail the odour modelling which demonstrated that there should never be an odour issue in the village, as well as talking about our own experiences of running pig units in harmony with other villages in the area.”
Yorkwold Pigpro’s pork products are used to supply supermarket Morrisons, who said: “We have seen the images and we are aware that the owners of the farm are investigating.”
It comes after the company submitted plans to build a new pig rearing facility at Warren House Farm, near Middleton on the Wolds. If approved, the farm would see the construction of 11 livestock buildings, five feed silos, a manure midden area, together with hardstandings for parking and turning of vehicles.
The business, owned by the Dewhirst family, was met by opposition from campaign group Protecting Our Wolds Environment and Resources (POWER), which believes the development is inappropriate.
Ian Dewar, chairman of POWER said: “We are obviously concerned by these allegations as, following our presentation to East Riding Council’s planning committee in January of this year, assurances were given that Yorkwold Pigpro maintained the highest standards of animal welfare at all times – a statement which appears to contradict the evidence presented by Animal Aid investigators during that same month.”
Bainton and Middleton on the Wold’s Parish Councils also objected, but Lund Parish Council said: “Overall this is an appropriate location and will be of benefit to the local rural economy.”
Company director Joe Dewhirst said claims that the facility would produce foul smells were misleading.
He said: “We have just carried out some independent detailed odour modelling, which shows that this will not be the case. The Environment Agency guidelines are that the odour units from a new pig unit must be below 3.0 at any neighbouring residential properties.
“This is a because below 30 is deemed to be rarely detectable and as such is acceptable in their view. A figure of 1.0 is deemed to be only detectable in laboratory conditions and would never be detectable in the open countryside.
“The odour value at the nearest Middleton on the Wolds residential property is 0.68. Yes, we will be spreading slurry and manure and this will have its own odour impact. However, this will be on less than 10 days per year and all of our spreading land is located over a mile from Middleton on the Wolds and as far away as three miles.”
We have been asked to point out and are happy to do so, that only two parish councils objected to YorkWold Pigpro’s planning application - not three as published on page seven of last week’s Times and Post.