An animal welfare campaign group, which was instrumental in halting Britain’s first “super dairy”, is now targeting a proposed 1,000-cow unit in Wales.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has been granted a High Court judicial review into the Welsh government’s decision to allow dairy farmer Fraser Jones to build a large dairy at Lower Leighton Farm, near Welshpool .

The application for an appeal came at the 11th hour. It is understood that it was lodged on the final day of a statutory six-week period.

WSPA had played a major role in stopping the 8,100-cow Nocton Dairies in Lincolnshire.

WSPA is asking the High Court to review the decision of Welsh planning minister Carl Sargeant to give the dairy the go-ahead last October.

It could take 12 months for the appeal to be heard. In the meantime, Mr Jones’ plans are in limbo.

He said he was extremely disappointed with the action and described it as “bullying tactics”. “This is causing huge financial implications for my business. I bought the milking parlour four years ago but I’m not getting any return from it,” he said.

“But it’s not just my business that is suffering. We had a local construction company lined up for the project and they have had to lay off four people because of the delay.”

Although there is nothing to stop Mr Jones starting work on the dairy, he says he can’t take that financial gamble. “If the appeal was successful I would have to strip everything back to its original state and that’s a huge financial risk.”

In its submission to the Petitions Committee, WSPA urged the Welsh government to review its planning guidance against large-scale indoor “factory dairy farms”, which it said were designed to “keep cows indoors rather than out on pasture, and have been shown to increase environmental damage, impoverish local communities, can severely compromise good animal welfare and become a financial drain on their surroundings”.

Simon Pope, WSPA UK director of campaigns and communications, said: “With current plans in place, an introduction to a US-style industrial dairy could open the floodgates for a spread of factory farming across the country.”

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