PLANS for a pig farm close to Ashbourne are under scrutiny after the Ministry of Justice wrote to Derbyshire County Council to oppose granting planning permission.
In what is expected to be a significant development in the long-running battle between Midland Pig Producers (MPP) and campaigners over a proposed 25,000 unit intensive pig facility in Foston, the Ministry cited ‘operational traffic, odour, noise, impact on the listed Foston Hall and operational implications for emergency procedures’ among other issues as reasons for concern.
The Ministry of Justice had previously refused to take a position regarding the proposal, despite HMP Foston being situated adjacent to the proposed site, while it conducted a national female prison estate review.
As part of the plans developed from the review HMP Foston will be expanded and refurbished to accommodate the planned closure of female prisons in Yorkshire and Kent.
This will include the establishment of a specialist unit for particularly vulnerable women, due to open imminently.
A source close to the prison was pessimistic about the prospects for MPP, which is owned by the Leavesley Group, and the pig farm proposal, and said: “The planned size of this farm in such close proximity to a large community of vulnerable women with complex health issues cannot now in any way be ignored.
“I do not see how the Derbyshire County Council can fail to recognise the feelings of the Ministry of Justice, local residents and campaigners in their final decision.”
Jim Davies, spokesman for the Foston Community Forum, said: “We are incredibly pleased that the Ministry of Justice has taken on board the concerns we have been raising for four years now.
“A facility of this size and nature is an industrial site.
“We have no reason to believe it will not release harmful emissions and create an environment for prisoners, prison staff and local residents conducive to stress and stress-related disorders.”
Foston Community Forum has been campaigning against the proposed pig farm and more than 30,000 people have signed a national petition against the plans, opposing the application on environmental, public health and animal welfare grounds.
A date for the final Derbyshire County Council planning meeting will not be set before the Environment Agency has decided if it will grant environmental permits for the operation.