Packed audience for controversial pig farm meeting

Mossley Mill.
Mossley Mill.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council is set to decide on whether a proposed pig farm on the Reahill Road gets planning approval.

Supporters and objectors to the proposed facility addressed members of the council’s Planning Committee in front of a packed audience at a pre-determination hearing at Mossley Mill last night (Thursday).

Opinion has been divided for the proposal, seeing party colleagues at loggerheads with each other over the farm.

Planning Committee member, Cllr Stephen Ross, addressed the committee to voice his opposition to the project. The DUP representative will not be able to vote on a recommendation in relation to the pig farm which comes before the Planning Committee.

Addressing the committee, Cllr Ross said: “The location of the proposed farm is entirely inappropriate and will be out of character for the countryside. It will lead to an erosion of the landscape and will effect Carnmoney, Ballyearl and Corr’s Corner, destroying the scenic value of the area.”

UUP representative, Cllr Michael Maguire lives approximately two miles from the proposed site. He spoke in opposition to the project, highlighting traffic and health issues which he argued would be a result of the scheme’s approval.

Cllr Roisin Lynch and East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson also voiced their opposition to the project.

Cllr Mervyn Rea spoke in support of the proposal. The UUP member spoke of modern and safe ways of farming, stating that the air cleaning system that was to be included in the proposed pig farm would be the first of its kind in the UK and Ireland.

South Antrim MLA, Steve Aiken, echoed these sentiments. He had ‘great concerns’ if the proposal is turned down, as he believed it would have devastating effects on future investment in the region.

Other objectors including legal and health professionals addressed the committee. Supporters, including representatives of the applicants also addressed the Planning Committee members.

Government agency representatives also faced questioning from the committee.

Plans for the controversial development were first submitted in March 2015. The original proposal stated that the farm would have four pig sheds, a mill building, an office building, two anaerobic digester tanks, a silo bay, a digestive lagoon and an attenuation lagoon and ancillary works.

A revised proposal was submitted on Thursday, July 21 2016, reducing the scale of the development and pig numbers.

The amended proposal stated that the facility would have four pig houses with air scrubber units and associated water and waste holding tanks, a slurry scraping system, pedestrian hand rails, an anaerobic digester plant, two digestive tanks, slurry tanks, combined heat and power and carbon scrubber, gas flare, a control and pump room, a standby generator, silo clamp, a silo bay with digestive loading area, an office, a store, gates and security fencing, dead stock storage, wheel wash facilities, a weighbridge, sheugh alterations, a septic tank, reed bed, a pond, fuel storage tanks, petrol interceptors, fire hydrants, new access onto Reahill Road, proposed widening of a section of Reahill Road, across site frontage, recontouring of land within the site with landscaped bunds, tree and shrub planting, lighting to include bollard, bulkhead and column fittings.

In excess of 800 objections have been received by the council, with a further 200,000+ received from various petition sites. To date, two letters of support have been received from two separate parties.

Objectors have raised a number of concerns including odour, dust generation, noise impact and visual impact.

Supporters have highlighted modernisation, improvement of animal welfare and improved odour and environmental standards.