Thousands object to large-scale pig farm plan

The proposed pig farm development at Reahill Road could house up to 30,000 animals.
The proposed pig farm development at Reahill Road could house up to 30,000 animals.

More than 123,000 people have signed an online petition opposing a proposed large-scale pig farm development near Mossley.

The applicants behind the controversial Reahill Road plan, the Hall family, are keen to extend their existing Old Carrick Road-based pig farm business and build a new “off-site state-of-the-art agri-food facility”. They describe the proposed development as “a sustainable, wholly self-sufficient intensive pig farming unit employing best industry practices.”

However, opponents have branded it a “mega pig farm” and a “pig factory”, claiming it would hold around 30,000 animals in four large sheds and be the biggest pig farm in the UK. They have voiced concerns about the potential environmental impact, traffic, noise, smells and animal welfare issues.

There is growing opposition to the plan from local residents and animal rights activists, who claim that so-called factory farming is detrimental to the wellbeing of animals.

The ‘Stop the biggest ever UK pig factory being built - Say NO to 30,000 pigs behind bars’ petition, started by Co Clare-based animal rights campaigner Polly Folley, has signatories from all over the UK and far beyond. And the locally-run ‘Stop the Newtownabbey Pig Factory’ Facebook page has attracted more than 1,200 ‘likes’.

Several local politicians have already publicly voiced their opposition to the pig farm plan, among them South Antrim DUP MLA Pam Cameron and East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, who has said he will be seeking a meeting with objectors to ascertain their concerns.

Meanwhile, letters of objection or support relating to the proposed development are still being accepted, it has been confirmed.

Some opponents of the project had raised concerns that the deadline for objections was June 6, and that letters received after that date would not be considered.

However, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning department has confirmed that while last month’s planning application advertisement does encourage supporters/objectors to send in written representations within four weeks, they will be accepted until the application is due for consideration by the local authority’s Planning Committee.

No date has yet been set for consideration of the application, and some councillors believe it could be several months before it comes in front of the committee.