Top lawyer wades into pig ‘mega-farm’ debate

One of the country’s top lawyers has launched a protest on behalf of the 25,000 pigs who could be housed at the proposed large-scale pig farm in Foston in Derbyshire.

Michael Mansfield QC, whose cases include the Bloody Sunday inquiry, the Stephen Lawrence inquiry and the inquest of the Princess of Wales, has lodged a complaint against the planning application for the indoor pig unit.

In a letter to Derbyshire County Council, the QC said he had made it his career “to seek justice for those who have been denied their rights”.

“To allow the Foston pig farm to go forward would mean a life of hellish confinement for tens of thousands of animals,” he said.

Pigs in the farms like the one proposed by Midland Pig Producers are “denied everything that is natural”, he added. “Intensively confined in crowded, filthy conditions that cause stress, many pigs are driven insane.”

Mr Mansfield said the farm would emit foul smells and pose a threat to water supplies, while the sounds of a 1,000 pigs being “hauled to slaughter each week” would be audible to local residents.

“Most of the animals will never see sunlight or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto a lorry bound for the abattoir,” he added.

Midland Pig Producers said animal welfare was its priority and the proposals addressed all of the concerns usually associated with intensive agriculture, including tail docking, teeth clipping, free farrowing and straw bedding.

Animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming also conceded that pigs housed in the proposed unit would have a higher standard of living than the majority of indoor-reared pigs in the UK.

“These proposed standards offer the potential for the pigs to have a higher quality of life than many of their counterparts in other UK and EU farms,” a spokesman said.

Proposals for the unit are expected to go before council planners in the autumn.

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