Protests grow over '˜mega dairy farm' at Crouchlands

Crouchland Farm at Plaistow has defended controversial plans for a '˜mega' dairy unit.

Thursday, 6th October 2016, 8:14 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:34 am

More than 140 objections have poured in to planners expressing concern over ‘cruel farming practices’, traffic, noise, smell and the environmental impact of ’concreting seven acres of green countryside’.

Crouchlands says the unit would have an automated system allowing the herd free access to feed, water, resting areas and the milking machines: “This means the cows decide when to eat, rest or get milked, reducing stress and allowing the staff to effectively manage the welfare of the herd.”

Paul Curtis, head of group operations at Crouchland Farm, said: “It’s in the best interest of our herd and our farm that we replace our ageing parlour with a state of the art dairy unit which will improve the welfare of our cows and safeguard the future of our dairy business.

“The new unit will be one of the most advanced in the UK.

“Its ground-breaking, self-sustaining design will put us at the forefront of modern sustainable farming, which is exactly where Crouchland Farm should be.

“It’s better for our cows, our neighbours and the environment and we look forward to working with Chichester District Council throughout the planning process.”

Submitting an application to Chichester District Council, planning consultants said the new unit would allow the farm to house up to 550 milking cows and use the outdated dairy units for diary followers and young stock which were currently kept offsite.

“This will provide the farm with closed herd status reducing both transport and rearing costs as well as the risk of exposure to disease.”

But Sophie Dracup echoed the sentiments of many saying: “There is no place for such cruel farming practices in Britain in this day and age.”

Stuart Lockwood from Rickmans Lane added: “When is this madness ever going to end? The situation at Crouchlands is a disgrace and flies in the face of natural justice.” He opposed the plan to “concrete seven acres of the local green countryside in order to build a structure that would be twice the size of an aircraft hangar.”

And Ester Naylor told planners: “This mega dairy proposal just goes against everything that we should be considering as good farming practice.”

Carol McKenna, director of campaigns for Compassion in World Farming urged refusal saying there were ‘implications for the future of dairy farming in England’.

And Veronika Powell for the animal health charity Viva! complained: “these cows will be permanently kept in the buildings, making it a zero‐grazing farm. 

“This intensification means not only poorer welfare but also an increase in resource use, environmental pollution and traffic.”

She added: “This new development will more than quadruple the built‐on land and will affect the entire area with its infrastructure.”

There were strong objections to a plan from Crouchlands for an upgrade of its existing anaerobic digester to allow the export of biomethane to the national gas grid. Permission was refused and the plan is now subject to a planning appeal. 

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