Former DEFRA minister Elliot Morley is among 40 MPs who have signed a motion opposing the 8100-cow dairy herd planned for Lincolnshire.

Signatories to the Early Day Motion are “firmly opposed” to the proposed dairy unit – largely due to animal welfare concerns.

Retailers and dairy processors should not source milk from large-scale intensive dairy units where cows receive only minimal grazing, it states.

Cows are likely to produce extremely high milk yields – the major factor causing poor welfare to cows, claims the motion.

Instead, the MPs believe cows should be farmed in pasture-based systems rather than housed indoors for most of the year.

“The proposed unit is taking farming in the wrong direction,” states the motion.

“The way forward lies in the use of healthy robust herds with lower milk yields but higher net margins for farmers.”

This could be achieved by lower culling rates, lower heifer replacement costs and higher sale prices for their calves and cull cows.

Early Day Motions are only very rarely debated in the House of Commons, but they are a useful indication of the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.