Nocton 'super-dairy' plans are just the start, say farmers

| 18th November 2010
Controversial dairy farm in Lincolnshire will now have fewer than 4,000 cows but farmers behind proposal say they plan to scale up soon, while another mega-dairy unit is proposed in Cambridgeshire

A revised application to build the UK's biggest dairy farm in Nocton, Lincolnshire, may be just the start in terms of more large-scale dairy farms being set up in the country.

An initial application to create a 8,100-cow unit was withdrawn earlier this year after concerns about its environmental impact, in particular how the facility planned to dispose of 180,000 tonnes or more of slurry a year.

The farmers have now submitted a revised application for a 3,770-cow unit, but have said they still plan to scale up to the original 8,100 cows within 18 months. If approved, the current farm is expected to be up and running by the end of 2011.

'We aim to demonstrate that the farm, once operational, will cause little local impact and work well from an environmental and welfare perspective,' said David Barnes, one of the two farmers behind the proposal. 'The advantage is that we’ve got a brand-new site and we can design all this in from the start, rather than having to adapt an older farm to deal with modern requirements.'

The new application comes as another farmer, David Alvis, was reported to be looking to set up a 2,000-3,000 cow unit in Cambridgeshire in the next year. Alvis recently spoke to the Ecologist about his strong support for the Nocton proposal and the potential for 'super-sized' dairy farming in the UK.

Speaking at a briefing this week, the second farmer behind the Nocton proposal, Peter Willes, said the east of England was ripe for more large-scale dairy units, with the large markets of London and the South East not served by any local milk processors at present.

However, as well as concerns about the environmental footprint of 2,000-cow plus dairy units, other farmers have expressed fears that it could 'polarise' farming in the UK and destroy smaller family dairy farms.

'You could call it progress but it is not something I'd personally like to see,' said Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) vice-president Eifion Huws. 'For the smaller family farm it is going to be bad; they are squeezing them out.'

The full planning application documents for the Nocton farm proposal can be found at:

Add to StumbleUpon
What is the environmental footprint of super-sized dairy farming?
Plans for US-style mega dairy farms in the UK are being heralded for their potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but scaling up may create as many problems as it attempts to solve
'Super-dairy' may only meet 'minimum' welfare standards
Advocates of Britain's biggest dairy farm, at Nocton, have sold the concept on the basis of its outstanding animal welfare and environmental credentials. But new evidence suggests this may not be possible without public funding
Undercover investigation:The shocking cost of US 'mega-dairies'
With planning permission for Britain's biggest dairy at Nocton about to be re-submitted, The Ecologist travels to California to examine intensive milk production - and finds factory farms, conflict, intimidation, pesticides, pollution and small-scale farmers driven out of business...
UK farmers face dilemma over 'super-dairy' plans
Plans for an 8,100-cow dairy farm at Nocton in Lincolnshire will ‘polarise’ farming in the UK and destroy smaller rural-based family farms say those working in the sector


The Ecologist has a formidable reputation built on fifty years of investigative journalism and compelling commentary from writers across the world. Now, as we face the compound crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse and social injustice, the need for rigorous, trusted and ethical journalism has never been greater. This is the moment to consolidate, connect and rise to meet the challenges of our changing world. The Ecologist is owned and published by the Resurgence Trust. Support The Resurgence Trust from as little as £1. Thank you. Donate here