Plans for a 4,000-cow mega-dairy farm in Lincolnshire in the UK have been withdrawn after fears it would pollute water supplies in the local area.
The Environment Agency objected to the farm saying it posed an 'unacceptable risk to groundwater supplies' and was not satisfied tens of thousands of tonnes of slurry expected to be produced by the cows every year would be safely disposed of. Soil and water experts had told the Ecologist the unprecedented number of animals would create pressure to spread waste slurry and risked leaching and run-off problems.
The two farmers behind the proposal had already cut cow numbers in half in an attempt to get it approved by local council officials, who had been due to make a decision next month. However, the farmers have now admitted defeat saying it had been 'impossible to provide the reassurances required by the Environment Agency that livestock farming is an appropriate use of the land at this site'.
There had been fears the farm, which would have been the largest ever built in the UK, would led to an influx of US-style mega dairy farms. The farming community itself remain divided on the issue, with many fearing a public backlash against dairy and its impact on smaller family-run dairy farms.
In a statement, the farmers behind the Nocton proposal, David Barnes and Peter Willes, said they still hoped to see large-scale, US-style, dairy farming in the UK and challenged others to 'stand up to' opponents of the system. Another farmer, David Alvis, has recently been reported to be looking to set up a 2,000-3,000 cow unit in Cambridgeshire.
The Soil Association is also battling plans for an intensive indoor pig unit of 2,500 mother pigs (sows) and around 20,000 piglets, being proposed in Derbyshire. It was part of an alliance of groups, including Friends of the Earth and Compassion in World Farming, who supported the World Society for the Protection of Animals 'Not in my cuppa' campaign, opposing the farm.
'Although Nocton Dairies have always tried to spin their plans for the UK's first mega-dairy as 'ambitious' and 'visionary', the submitted plans showed that they had not addressed some of the most important, and indeed fundamental, environmental and animal welfare flaws in the mega-dairy system,' said Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).
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 reports Tom Levitt
Nocton 'super-dairy' plans are just the start, say farmers
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
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...
'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
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. Tom Levitt investigates