Submitting a planning application for a new pig unit isn’t a quick and easy process, but careful planning and being aware of what’s involved, will help prevent hiccups along the way.

Speaking at a BPEX planning workshop in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, specialist agricultural and rural planning consultant Ian Pick listed seven key planning areas producers need to be aware of:

• Gaining Environment Agency approval pre-application

“Ammonia is a serious problem with the permitting process at the moment,” said Mr Pick. He recommended submitting an application to the Environment Agency asking them to screen the proposed development in terms of ammonia impact. This process takes three to five weeks, and a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is delivered. This means you know upfront, before planning consent is obtained, where you stand in terms of IPPC permits.”

• Environmental Impact Assessments

“The difficult processes come from new developments and large-scale expansions,” explained Mr Pick. And very often Environmental Impact Assessments are compulsory when submitting an application for a unit which exceeds the 750 sow or 2,000 pigs weighing more than 30kg limit. And for large-scale units, a very detailed analysis is required covering all the perceived effects of the development. Mr Pick said: “It can be very straight forward but it becomes a postcode lottery.” In some instances ammonia-, odour- or noise-modelling may be required, dependant on where the site is in relation to sensitive sites such as ancient woodland etc. “Detailed modelling works but it does cost a lot of money to do,” added Mr Pick.

• Planning Statements

For small-scale developments, producers don’t generally have to provide a planning statement. But for large-scale expansions or new units, a planning statement is necessary in line with regulations for “intensive livestock units’ included in local authorities” local plans. These regulations relate to the impact – noise, smell, slurry disposal etc – of the development on nearby residential places.

• Location

Some local authorities state they will not allow the erection of a new livestock unit within 400m of a dwelling – this is worth considering when submitting an application for a new unit.

• Slurry Disposal

The majority of local authorities will accept a statement within the planning application, explaining where and how slurry will be disposed from the site. My Pick said: “My view is, so long as there are arrangements in place, the full details are beyond the scope of the planning authority.” And although there are some regulations in place which state slurry cannot be spread within 400m of a dwelling, Mr Pick said he didn’t think these regulations were legally binding.

• Traffic

Pig producers planning for a new unit shouldn’t face a problem on the grounds of traffic impact, unless there is a dangerous entrance into the site.

• Planning Application Fees

To mitigate high fees when submitting a planning application, producers should consider putting in individual applications for multiple-building units. According to Mr Pick, this method, which helps producers save substantial sums of money in the planning process, works so long as the individual buildings aren’t connected. This means producers will not be able to break up a large building into different sections for planning – the buildings must be separate from each other.