Dairy farm plan for 8,100 cows is shelved

An application to build a dairy farm for 8,100 cows at Nocton Heath, near Lincoln, was shelved this week – but with a promise it would be back.

The Nocton Dairies partners 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.

Objectors on the grounds of animal welfare and environmentalism got some help from a run of documentaries and books questioning the industrialisation of farming. Locals added concerns about noise, traffic and possible pollution.

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Nocton Parish Council joined the list of objectors and it was clearly going to be hard for the planning authority, North Kesteven District Council, to go the other way.

The Nocton Dairies consortium – led by farmers Peter Willes of North Devon, David Barnes of Clitheroe and Robert Howard of Lincolnshire – said: "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 be seeking to undertake more surveys and detailed reports with a view towards resubmitting a new planning application."

Martin Burtt, a Yorkshire dairy farms representative in the NFU, said he was disappointed an interesting idea had been shelved. For one thing, introducing a good source of manure into the heart of specialist arable country would have been a useful demonstration that livestock and crops should be more mixed up, as in the old days.

He said: "I didn't see any good professional objection to it and one day someone in this country has to dip a toe into dairying on the scale which is commonplace in the USA, Australia and Saudi Arabia."