"Mega-dairy" economic benefits held to outweigh health concerns

A call in involving an extension to a dairy in mid-Wales has been allowed despite the perceptions of local residents in terms of their anxiety about health risks.

The proposal involved a milking parlour, livestock cubicle buildings, fodder storage buildings, slurry stores and water storage towers. The Welsh minister agreed with his inspector’s conclusions on the issues of slurry spreading and disposal of waste water, odour, noise and the need for pest control, health issues, animal welfare, human rights, impact on school and village life, highway issues and alternative sites.

The Welsh minister considered that the scheme would cause considerable harm to surrounding landscape quality. Part of the landscape was included in the Register of Landscapes, Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales published by CADW in 1999 as a Grade I Registered Park and Garden. It would also cause considerable harm to the setting of a listed church and the terraces of a nearby listed castle and particular regard was had to this when carrying out a balancing exercise. He did though attach more weight to the economic issues arising from the application than his inspector did.

He found that the proposal would create new permanent jobs on the farm. When the scheme was fully operative the applicant would employ 10 herdsmen, a manager and a secretary as well as sub-contracting regularly to a veterinary surgeon, a foot trimmer and a pest control operative. At present 5 people were employed on site. The Welsh minister attached far more weight to job creation and milk yield than that afforded by the inspector.

The proposal was found to involve a 7 figure financial investment and the confidence this inferred from a business perspective was given great weight. Whilst acknowledging the adverse impact the scheme would have on the landscape and various heritage assets the Welsh minster concluded that these objections were overridden by the economic benefits.

He acknowledged the perceptions of local residents in terms of their anxiety about health risks and concerns about impact on village life but these did not affect his conclusion that the economic benefits outweighed the social and environmental objections and he therefore allowed the application.

Inspector: Katie Peerless; Call in

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