Plan to build controversial rearing farm for 1,000 pigs near Yorkshire village refused

A controversial plan for a 1,000 pig rearing farm close to a Yorkshire village has been rejected by councillors.

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

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

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Councillors on the planning committee deferred the application last month in order to visit the site and to assess the concerns raised by residents.

Toecroft Farm in Spotborough

Members turned down the plan, against the advice of council officers and raised concerns around access of large HGVs carrying pigs to the site from Folder Lane and the danger to road users.

Other reasons for rejection were the damage to amenity to nearby residents due to the size and nature of the vehicles and concerns around odour and noise from the animals at all times of the day and night.

Chief planning officer Garry Hildersley said rejecting the application based on these grounds with no objection from the council’s highways team opened up the council to losing at appeal.

Mexborough councillor Andy Pickering said: “We all know sat in this room that nobody wants the contents of that pig farm 300 metres from their home 365 days a year and that is what the residents are clearly upset about. They fear there is a loss of amenity and I accept that they’re correct.”

Councillor Steve Cox added: “There’s a perception of danger here and from the site visit, we see that and we saw that the road just isn’t adequate. If this application decides to expand and make it bigger, would they still use the same access?

“It’s to take that back into the residents hands and we’re letting them know that we are listening to them.”

But planning agent Sam Harrison, on behalf of the applicant, said the practices and wider operations would actually reduce traffic already heading to the farm.

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.

At a previous meeting Mr Harrison, on behalf of the applicant, prompted an angry 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’.

The building would’ve accommodated 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 provides pig accommodation on a fully slatted slurry based system, in which the slurry is emptied twice a year. The slurry will be primarily be used as a fertiliser for the existing fields.

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

Sprotbrough councillor Glenn Bluff urged members to reject the application as it stood and he urged the applicant and residents to work with him to come to a solution.

The applicant is likely to appeal.