Mid Wales

Super dairy plan in Powys rejected by councillors

Image caption The dairy is planned for Lower Leighton Farm in Leighton, near Welshpool

Plans for a controversial "super dairy" with 1,000 cows at a farm have been rejected by Powys councillors.

The vote is the latest twist in the debate about the dairy near Welshpool, which councillors had backed last year.

A protest was held outside the meeting against how livestock will be kept inside for 250 days of the year.

Farmer Fraser Jones, who wants to build one of the first parlours of its type in Wales, has said the proposal would result in improved conditions.

The matter was discussed again after changes in Powys council's constitution and committee membership.

In November last year, the planning committee said it was minded to approve the application subject to a report about "outstanding issues". It had been recommended for refusal.

The Welsh government called in the application in the following January.

Environment Minister John Griffiths is concerned about the risk of pollution from slurry spreading and the visual impact on nearby Powis Castle.

The plans include three livestock cubicle buildings, a fodder storage unit, two slurry stores and a water storage tower.

But animal welfare groups and some local residents strongly oppose the scheme.

Villagers in Leighton said the dairy would be too close to their homes and a primary school, and there have been objections about noise, smell, flies, increased traffic and the size of the development.

Peta's Abi Izzard said: "If the councillors want to keep the abuse of animals and pollution out of Powys, they'll immediately vote down this proposal."

Compassion in World Farming has also condemned the plans and in 2010 said they amounted to factory farming.

But Mr Jones has said his animals' health will be monitored all the time, and he claimed the dairy would improve milking conditions.

In a report to accompany Tuesday's council meeting, Geoff Vine, chair of governors at Leighton primary school, wrote to the council stating his objections.

"Our main concern relating to this application is that the introduction of intensive dairy farming is new (first planning application in Wales) and consequently very few if any regulations refer to this form of intensive farming," he said.

"We feel there are significant health issues related to any intensive farming activity and should have similar restrictions applied as in the case with pig and poultry farms."

Officers recommended refusal because the development is in conflict with Powys council policies.

Legal advice

The council report covered issues with drainage and access to the planned dairy site.

Landscape and visual assessment has also been taken into account with any impact on locations including the town of Welshpool and nearby Powis Castle.

In the report to councillors officers said legal advice had been sought about the correct course of action to follow because of changes within the council. The advice was to consider the application again.

Farmer Mr Jones said in January he was "slightly disappointed" his application was called in by the Welsh government.

"But hopefully the Welsh government will realise that there are no pollution risks or other issues which should stop this going ahead, which is what the councillors felt after they came here on a site visit," he said.

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