Friday, 19 November 2010

Nocton CAFO plans resubmitted

It appears that the long awaited plans for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation in Nocton, have finally been resubmitted, with seemingly, the only significant change being that the initial number of cows will be reduced somewhat to 3770, but still making it substantially larger than any other real farm in the UK and with their stated intention to increase the size to 8100 as soon as is practicable, essentially, it's the same proposal but with (even) more spin than before.

The facts remain the same - these are not good for our health, not good for our food supply, nor are they good for our farming community.

Read more here and here.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Waitrose wins "Compassionate Supermarket Of The Year"

The Compassion In World Farming "Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards" for 2010 were announce recently and Waitrose won the Compassionate Supermarket Of The Year award. Sainsburys and Morrisons were also commended, but of course, one should still try to read the labels carefully as not all produce they offer is ethically and responsibly sourced.

Whilst some of the supermarkets are making decent efforts towards a responsible and ethical supply of food, we should not forget local farmers markets as well (e.g. Rutland Farm Shop), or even the farms themselves (e.g. Northfield farm and Grasmere Farm).

If there is one thing that has been highlighted by all this CAFO affair, it is that we should be making every effort to find out where our food comes from and to vote with our wallets.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Velmur abandon plans for South Witham - Press Release,, 17th June, 2010



The Directors of Velmur and their advisers have, following their meeting with the South Witham Parish Council and the open meeting, reflected on comments raised at the meeting and the reaction of the village.

The Company still believe that the case for more intensive dairying remains in the UK. The scheme in many ways could have met anticipated concerns of the village.

Velmur had from the outset agreed to consult and listen to the views of the village. Access, the site and measures for slurry disposal could have minimised the impact of the scheme. The proximity of the site to the village however would not be acceptable to the village in the circumstances.

The Directors have agreed that they will not be taking forward a planning application for this site.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Minutes from first meeting of SWAFFO, 15th June, 2010

The first meeting of South Witham Against Factory Farm Operations (SWAFFO) took place on 15th June, 2010 in the village hall. The minutes are available in Microsoft Word format by clicking here, but for those who don't have Word, I've published them below...


Draft minutes of SWAFFO working group meeting 1 - Tuesday 15th June 2010 at 7.30pm

Cllr M Wilkins (Chair), Cllr C van Straubenzee, Cllr D Arnold, Cllr A Smith, Cllr D Maclaine, Cllr N Robins, Sarah Beardmore, Jeff Moss, Marian Davis, Fiona Stuart, Tom Chalmers, Kevin and Linda Baxter, David and Val Joy, Jane Rutherford, Gordon Andrews, Richard Burton, Rev Tom Broadbent,
Mrs H Sandon
Cllr P Dedynski, Cllr C Ashton
Meeting Objectives
Cllr Wilkins outlined the workgroup list and explained that by the end of the evening there should be names against each group to investigate these areas further and deadlines set to report back information to the SWAFFO committee.

Events since Public Meeting of 7th June 2010
Parish Council letter had been sent to Velmur Ltd and associates advising of the unanimous vote against the proposal and public disappointment at their non-attendance at the meeting to answer questions, copy of letter on blog. Jeff Moss initiated the blog and keeps the information up to date on a daily basis. Mr Stafford had emailed back to say that Buckminster will discuss and get back to the PC, nothing received as yet. Cllr Wilkins had attended a Nocton meeting that had been informative and it was agreed to send a rep. from each others’groups along to future meetings. A petition has been started around the village. Cllr Wilkins and Mr Monahan had attended a meeting with Nick Boles, our MP, who said he would not get involved as it is a local planning issue. After stressing that there is no legislation to cover these operations, he said he would help with the application. An early days motion has been restarted, however Mr Boles will not sign one as he thinks they are a waste of time.
A copy of the letter sent from NKDC Chief Executive to Defra asking for help was handed to Mr Boles. He will ask a question in the house at the appropriate time. Cllr Wilkins had written to Lady Tollemache asking for help, she had since called back and said she cannot help as she has nothing to do with Buckminster affairs. Cllr Wilkins had sent a further email to Mr Stafford asking Buckminster to reconsider.
Master list of email addresses has been created from the sign in register at the Public Meeting and Cllr Wilkins has sent out the minutes of the Public Meeting to all. Tom Chalmers reported he had been looking at the press on a national basis and info. on proximity to residential housing.

Initiate SWAFFO Groups
All areas need to be looked at in readiness for when the planning application is received, as there may only be a three week turnaround. Possible material considerations and weighting that could be applied by the SKDC Planning Dept need to be thought through fully. Velmur Ltd have had a pre planning meeting with the planners, SWAFFO need to do so too. Cllr Wilkins to arrange.
Issues were allocated as follows;
Environment and Conservation to be combined as one group, Jane Rutherford to lead, with Linda and Kevin Baxter, Richard Burton, Tom Chalmers, Gordon Andrews and Tom Broadbent to assist.
Administration Jeff Moss – blog, other administration tasks- Helen Sandon.
Research – Marian Davis, Defra added into this group.
Traffic – Nick Robins and Sarah Beardmore.
Public Relations – Martin Wilkins.
Public Health – Andrea Smith to lead with help from Jeff Moss, Debbie Arnold and Claire van Straubenzee.
Legal – David Maclaine
Animal Welfare – Fiona Stuart and Tom Broadbent.
Planning – Martin Wilkins.

Petition – Mr & Mrs Joy to co ordinate, additional petition sheets to be put in both shops and pubs.
Petition to be completed and delivered to Buckminster by Mr & Mrs Joy and Claire van Straubenzee by next week.

Reporting Procedures
SWAFFO meetings to be held every two weeks on a Wednesday night at 7.30pm. Next meetings Weds 30th June. Working groups to arrange their own meetings in between and collate information to report back in two weeks time.
SWAFFO contact list information circulated around the table for members to check, Martin Wilkins to then update and issue to all on committee.
Martin Wilkins to be copied in on all emails sent between working group members in order to coordinate activities.

Meeting Schedules
Weds 30th June, Weds 14th July, Weds 28th July all at 7.30pm.
Martin Wilkins may invite an adviser from Planning Aid along to a meeting in a few weeks time to help and advise on the planning application process.

Any other business
Keeping the residents informed and not losing the momentum - information to be included in the July Witham Word, but then there is no August issue, hence future flyers to be produced/ distributed accordingly.
Suggested that the leaflet – Are You Informed, that has appeared around the village be sent out to all residents now with the addition of key headings added in, to show the areas SWAFFO is investigating further. Mr & Mrs Baxter to help with the printing, then delivered to Peter Ball for distribution with the WW, notice required being 48hrs for inclusion. Meeting closed at 9.30pm

Meeting with Nick Boles, Friday 11th June, 2010

Meeting with MP: On Friday 11th June, Martin Wilkins and Fin Monahan met with our new MP- Nick Boles – to discuss the Factory Farm and to try to gain his support.

His initial reaction was that he could not get involved with Planning Applications because as an MP he must not try to influence such decisions. He did say that he would insist on the planning process being enforced and carried out democratically.

We pointed out that there was no legislation to cover Factory Farms for cows – only Factory Farms for Pigs or Poultry. His reaction was that if we made too many regulations then it could drive the industry out of the country and lead to us importing all of our milk. We pointed out that it was important to have regulations that help the Farmers and the local rural communities and that the proximity of the proposed South Witham Factory Farm was totally unacceptable and needed some sort of regulation.

He asked for more information on the proposal and did say that he would give what help he could with our defence of the application.

We pointed out that the Chief Exec of NKDC – who have been dealing with the Nocton application - had asked DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) for help as there were no proper guidelines for Planners.

He did eventually agree that he would ask a question in the House at the appropriate Agricultural Question Time about how DEFRA was dealing with such Factory Farms.

Maybe a sort of success but he will need working on in the future!!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Chicken Out campaign

Whilst researching the animal welfare aspects of battery farming, I came across the Chicken Out campaign run by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. In the same way as for the cows, it sounds like a good idea to me, to stop battery farming approaches in this country, so I signed up for their campaign.

Interestingly, one of the parts of the campaign registration process, led to a check on whether my MP had signed Early Day Motion 581, which relates to "Food labelling and the welfare of chickens". For some reason the site suggested that Nicholas Boles (our MP) had signed this, but when I went onto the EDM site, it suggested otherwise, which would be in line with what Nicholas Boles has said to us, i.e. that he does not sign EDMs as a matter of principle.

I've blogged recently about EDM 144, but I notice some more EDMs have recently appeared, in a similar vein:

Lets hope that they gather some support in the coming weeks.

Nick has agreed to raise a question in the house on this matter, which is a positive step.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Minutes from the South Witham Public Meeting, 7th June, 2010

As you will no doubt be aware, a public meeting was held on 7th June, 2010 in the village hall at South Witham to discuss the proposals for a Confined Animal Feeding Operation, or "Battery Cow Factory Farm".

The minutes of that meeting are now available here, or on the Correspondence page.

Velmur Ltd Press Release from 7th June, 2010

Available from the Correspondence page above, or click here.

I believe the Nocton proposers used similar excuses to not attend a public meeting relating to their CAFO proposals.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Letter to Velmur Ltd from South Witham Parish Council

I've been asked by Martin Wilkins, the Parish Council Chairman, to publish a letter sent by the Parish Council to Velmur Ltd in response to their no show at the public meeting on Monday 7th June, 2010.

The original document is in Microsoft Word and will be available in the Correspondence link at the top, however, for the benefit of those who do not have this software and to make it, more accessible, therefore, I'm publishing it in plain text below.

Mr M Walsh
Velmur Ltd
The Old Stables
High Street
LE15  9DN

Dear Mr Walsh,

cc Mr Stafford-Buckminster Estates, Mr Paton-Chesterton Humberts,
Peter Wilmot- Peter Wilmot Architects

We were most disappointed to be told at such a late stage that you would not attend our Public Meeting that had been arranged by us and agreed by you.
Some 230 people assembled in the Village Hall to hear your presentation and to raise questions and receive your responses.  Asking our Chairman to show your presentation on your behalf was greeted with a certain amount of derision within the Hall and has been duly reported by both local Radio and TV stations.
The meeting lasted for approximately 1½ hours and a host of valid points was raised in a most orderly manner, culminating in a unanimous vote against your proposals and providing us with a mandate to proceed with a vigorous and robust campaign to prevent such a Factory Farm being built in the vicinity of areas of residential habitation.
Buckminster Estates also came in for severe criticism not only for not attending the meeting but also for contemplating allowing such a scheme to proceed with such total disregard for the well-being of the population that live in and around their Estate.

Yours sincerely,

Helen Sandon (Mrs) 
South Witham Parish Clerk

Nocton Village meerting update

Martin Wilkins, the Parish Council Chairman for South Witham, attended a meeting of the Nocton Campaign Group on Tuesday evening, where they received a very useful presentation on planning and how to react to Planning Applications.

Martin will book the speaker to come to South Witham in the near future. The Nocton group are very motivated and ready to react to the possible resubmission of the Planning Application.

It was clear to Martin that there is a lot of common ground and the two groups must act together. Getting legislation in place to cover these sorts of previously unthought of developments is essential as is further work on the Public Health issues that so far seem to have been ignored.