Northern Ireland

Newtownabbey pig farm: Pensioner faces fine over garden sign

John Holland erected a protest sign in his garden Image copyright Other
Image caption John Holland said he has been ordered to remove his sign by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

A pensioner who objects to a large pig farm near his home has been warned he could be fined £2,500 for putting up a protest sign in his own garden.

The farm being built in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, will house 15,000 pigs.

Planning permission for the project was granted late last year, despite thousands of objections.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council said the warning was part of an investigation into "a range of unauthorised signage".

Resident John Holland said he received a letter on Friday warning him he will be fined if the sign is not removed by 7 March.

In a statement, the council said the display of signs of that nature required "advertisement consent from the council" and that signs put up without consent are "deemed to be unauthorised".

'Can't afford to pay that'

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, Mr Holland said he erected the sign on his own property because protest banners placed near the council's offices had been torn down.

"What can you do if they're going to turn round and slap a fine of up to £2,500?

"We're two pensioners, I can't afford to pay that," Mr Holland said.

Image caption The pig farm will accommodate 15,000 pigs

The council said an unauthorised sign is an offence under Northern Ireland's planning laws, and that "compliance and respect for that process (planning) are both essential and expected".

"In this specific case, the council wrote to the owner/occupier on 21 February detailing the nature of the offence, the penalties that could be imposed and requested that the sign be removed by 7 March.

"The owner has now indicated to the council that he intends to remove the sign in question."

The development of the major pig farm has faced opposition, with Queen guitarist Brian May one of those critical of the plan.

There were 856 individual letters of objection and 200,000 people signed an online petition against the original project before planning permission was granted.

There were also two letters of support for the project.

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