Judicial review over Reahill Road pig farm

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Opponents of the proposed Reahill Road pig farm say they will seek a judicial review if they are not satisfied with the reduced scale of the proposal.

Last week, members of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Planning Committee heard that the applicant, Derek Hall, is due to submit amendments to the current application, which will then be re-advertised and re-consulted.

The original application for an intensive unit housing up to 30,000 pigs met with opposition from local residents and animal rights activists, including Queen guitarist Brian May.

While Mr Hall told the Newtownabbey Times that the amended plans would involve fewer animals, he did not reveal the scale of the reduction.

A spokesman from the Stop the Newtownabbey Pig Factory group, who did not wish to be identified, said the group remained sceptical.

“Until Derek submits the new planning application we are not enlightened or reassured,” said the representative.

“We’re sceptical that it’s a good step in the right direction for animal welfare. Should we have to, we will be prepared to go to a judicial review, we will band together.”

The objectors have yet to meet with Mr Hall after a June meeting at New Mossley Elim Church was shelved.

In response to Mr Hall’s claims that objectors refused his request for a meeting, the spokesperson commented: “He refused three times to meet with us. We have written to him and sent emails but have received no answer.”

The spokesperson said life for occupants of neighbouring properties was currently “awful” as they waited in limbo for a decision.

“No-one can sell their home and no-one is buying as they don’t know if the pig farm will come,” he revealed.

“Residents are having to put their lives on hold. Even with planning powers now in the hands of local councils, there isn’t really more confidence that resident’s views will be taken into account.”

So far, 850 individual written objections have been submitted to the council, as well as email petitions signed by over 200,000 people.

A council spokeswoman confirmed that all previous objections would “still stand and be considered in light of the changes proposed.”

“At that stage anyone would be entitled to make further comment if they so wish or reiterate their current objection,” she continued.

“It is unlikely that the proposed pre-determination hearing will take place until towards the end of 2015 or early in 2016. The application is still under consideration and no formal officer opinion on the matter has been made.”