Chris Down from Crealy Farms has lodged an application to build the vast indoor pig unit at Venn Ottery, on land designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The revised application, which states will involve intensively rearing 740 breeding sows, only slighty varies from the proposal last year that was covered by BBC’s Inside Out, which also reported on the activities of Communities Before Developers – the campaign group I used to be involved with.

As the adjacent ward member (the application is in the Newton Poppleford ward), I am very concerned about the impact on the surrounding landscape given that the unit would be situated in a prominent piece of land visible from the nearby East Devon Way, Venn Ottery Common and the nearby country lane.

I also support the concerns of residents living at Higher Metcombe, who are worried about potential odours from the farm.  A similar industrial pig farm in another part of the district given permission a few years ago, is reported to regularly emit strong unpleasant smells.

The proposal so far has caused as much of an uproar as the first one, which was refused by planning officers last February.  There are now over 60 objections and I understand there has been several packed public meetings at Venn Ottery to debate the issue.

There would be a large slurry lagoon, which would have the capacity to hold 2,900 cubic metres, a separate storage lagoon would store 510 cubic meters. 

Whatever residents’ views about intensive farming, the application must be determined on planning grounds alone.  The merits of industrial farming, or in fact animal welfare considerations (sadly) do not enter into planning legislation so are not considered in planning terms.

To get caught up with the arguments relating to animal welfare or intensive farming will simply detract from the key planning considerations. 

As I see it these are:
– the impact on the surrounding landscape and visual intrusion in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

– the impact on the nearby highly sensitive Sites of Special Scientific Interest – the pebblebed heaths (Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas), which are subject to the European Directive – The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
.
– odour

– noise from the ventilation fans

I am still ploughing through the documentation but I intend to make a formal representation to EDDC in the next day or two….

It is in the clear public interest that this application is determined in the public domain by the Development Management Committee.