Applicants pull back on moves to establish 8,000-cow dairy farm

A controversial application to build a dairy farm for 8,100 cows that could have produced up to 250,000 litres of milk a day has been withdrawn.

The superdairy plan for Nocton Heath, near Lincoln, was officially

shelved for more research into technical questions raised in the consultation.

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But despite vocal opposition by welfare groups there is a feeling in the dairy business it simply hit the wrong public mood.

Dairy farming partners Peter Willes of North Devon and David Barnes of Clitheroe, with Nocton area farmer David Barnes, believed they could raise 50m to build a farm combining economies of scale with good animal welfare. But it would have involved keeping the cows indoors most of the time, on beds of sand.

The planned farm had been described by opponents as "the equivalent of battery chicken farms for cows" and local residents had added their own questions about noise, traffic and possible pollution.

Nocton Parish Council had also joined the list of objectors to the proposals which were set to go before North Kesteven District Council on April 27.

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Nocton Dairies consortium said yesterday: "The technical issues involved will take more time to address than we have available to meet the requirements of the planning authority and consultees. We will therefore be seeking to undertake more surveys and detailed reports with a view towards resubmitting a new planning application."

"We have no doubt that dairies like ours represent an economically viable, environmentally sustainable and ethically imperative future for the British dairy industry."

Martin Burtt, a Yorkshire dairy farms representative in the NFU, said he was disappointed an interesting idea had been shelved.

The NFU said: "The Nocton proposal was an imaginative and positive response to the backdrop of low confidence and underinvestment that has plagued the British dairy industry of late."

A spokesman for campaign group Compassion in World Farming said: "So many cows cramped together in a battery farm without access to grazing would be a disaster from an animal welfare point of view."

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