Reahill Road pig farm numbers halved in plan

Family worried about smell, rodents and traffic congestion
Family worried about smell, rodents and traffic congestion
  • Proposal would see number of pigs on farm almost halved
  • Farmer claims visual and environmental impact reduced
  • Campaign group consults with expert to submit objection

An amended application has been submitted for the Reahill Road pig farm which would see the number of pigs cut from 30,000 to 15,120.

The updated planning application, which has been submitted by farmer Derek Hall, proposes four pig sheds with associated air scrubber units, two anaerobic digester tanks with a gas flare, a combined heat and power generator, one silo bay and associated silo clamp, two digestive storage lagoons, one office building with car parking, an attenuation pond, new access onto Reahill Road and associated site works and landscaping.

According to the nontechnical summary by McGurran Associates Ltd, the previously-proposed ventilation stacks on the pig houses have been removed and replaced with a new air scrubber system.

In addition, the feed mill building has been removed from the plan and the digestate lagoon will now be contained in two smaller lagoons. An attenuation pond to accommodate runoff from the roof and sheds and additional planting have also been incorporated into the scheme.

According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the predicted noise, odour and ammonia levels for the amended scheme would be “compliant,” the risk of contamination to the soil environment “insignificant to minor” and there would be a “low level of traffic.”

It also claims that there would be a “reduction in the visual impact of the scheme”, that there would be “no significant impact upon Threemilewater Site of Local Nature Conservation Importance (SLNCI),” and that the plan would “significantly improve the ecology of the site.”

The new plans also include measures to “maximise the animals’ welfare” such as an underfloor scraping waste removal system, heating, ventilation to remove odour, ammonia and dust and large windows.

The document states: “The pigs in this new state of the art unit will be stocked to exceed RSPCA Freedom Food welfare standards, allowing plenty of space to move within the pen even when at their maximum stocking weight. There are large windows to allow plenty of natural light within each of the buildings. Each building will be equipped with feed and water facilities which are above the RSPCA Freedom Food requirements.”

An Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council spokesperson said previous objections would still stand and comments on the amended scheme could be submitted over the next four weeks. The council will now re-consult with statutory and non-statutory agencies and a predetermination hearing will take place before any decision by the Planning Committee.

The farmer behind the Reahill Road pig farm plan Derek Hall told the Times that he had decided to reduce the number of pigs in the amended scheme from 30,000 to 15,120 to “demonstrate our commitment to work with the local community and statutory consultees”.

He stated: “The exhaust air cleaner along with the scraping system and anaerobic digester will alleviate odour, ammonia and dust.

“The exhaust air system will also reduce noise as the fans are at the end of the building to pull the air from the central air duct yet before the air cleaner as it pushes the air through filters. This process will muffle noise.

“The pigs are inside and all possible contaminated areas have a concrete or tarmac surface. A management and drainage plan are in place to ensure there is no contamination risk. Visual impact has been greatly reduced with this new proposal.”

Mr Hall also addressed concerns over animal welfare.

He said: “The facility has RSPCA Standards and with extra technology to improve their environment and alleviate environmental concerns for the local community.”

However, a committee member of the Stop the Newtownabbey Pig Factory campaign group said the organisation is consulting with an expert before submitting an objection to the amended plan. The group has concerns over pollution, road safety and the fact that only four weeks have been given to submit objections to the amendment.

“The plan may now say 15,000 but I fear he may extend it to 30,000 pigs,” said the representative.

“An anaerobic digester needs more pig slurry to run efficiently and we fear that household waste will be added. There is nothing in these amended plans that is going to give comfort to anyone who lives nearby.”

An Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council spokesperson commented: “Given the ongoing process of re-consultation and the fact that no recommendation has been made by the Planning Section to either grant or refuse planning permission for this proposal, it would not be appropriate to comment on whether planning conditions will be necessary to control the number of animals on the site.”