Frustration for pig producer as delays over planning continue
DEVELOPERS seeking to build a pig farm in Foston admit they are "frustrated" at how long it is taking for the application to be decided.
Midland Pig Producers wants to build the farm for up to 25,000 animals, west of Woodland Drive in Foston.
The proposal has attracted more than 20,000 objections from all over the world by letter, e-mail or signatures on petitions.
Among the concerns are animal welfare, risk to human health and the spread of disease.
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Midland Pig Producers first submitted an application to South Derbyshire District Council in April 2010, only to be told months later that it was a matter for Derbyshire County Council.
The company then re-submitted its plans to the Matlock-based authority in March 2011.
Eighteen months have since elapsed – but still no date has been set by the county council for when it will decide whether or not to give the strongly-opposed plans the go-ahead.
A spokeswoman for the Tory-led authority said the council had requested further information about the plans, which it was yet to receive.
Martin Barker, managing director of Midland Pig Producers, said he had no power over the delays.
He said: "Because it's quite a new concept, the application process has not been straight forward. Essentially, there are four different ways of submitting information to the Environment Agency, which has to be satisfied with our plans for approval.
"There's been quite a lot of change in personnel at the Environment Agency. Every time there's been a change we've been told to do something different in terms of our application.
"One person has said 'you need to do it like this' and then someone else has come along and said 'no, you need to do it differently'.
"That has happened a few times and it has meant the process has dragged on and on. It has been frustrating – but I'd like to stress we're working with the Environment Agency, rather than against it."
Mr Barker said the "very thorough" application process was "a good thing".
"It shows we have done everything we possibly can to appease people's concerns about it," he said.
"Once the Environment Agency is happy with the application, it will be over to Derbyshire County Council to make a decision on whether it gets planning consent. One process has to trigger the other and there's nothing we can do to speed it up.
"We think a conclusion to the Environment Agency aspect is imminent.
"We're happy for conditions to be placed on us as part of any such planning consent, so we're hopeful of getting the go-ahead from the county council before too long, although I can't guarantee that will be the case."
The Environment Agency said it was unable to comment at present.