Another pig of a problem

13 February 2012 by

We have posted previously on controversial plans to build a US-style mega pig-farm in South Derbyshire. It will be remembered from that post that Midland Pig Producers (MPP) applied for permission to build the farm – which could house up to 25,000 animals – on a greenfield site west of the historic village of Foston.

The Soil Association formally objected to the plans because of the ‘increased disease risk and poor welfare conditions” of intensive units. Despite being made within the privileged context of planning proceedings, the Soil Assocation received a threatening letter from solicitors Carter-Ruck – acting for MPP – saying its objection was defamatory.

The Guardian now reports that the campaigning local groups, Foston Community Forum and Pig Business, the film makers who exposed the abuses and environmental costs of intensive pig farming, have joined forces with the Soil Association and Friends of the Earth to bolster their original argument with claims under the Human Rights Act. Until recently, The Soil Association’s concerns have been mainly about disease, antibiotic resistance and animal welfare in large pig herds. But now the joint forces argue that such a development would pose serious health risks to humans living and working there and could breach their legal rights to protection of their private and family life.  Their aim is to put pressure on Derbyshire county council to refuse planning permission for the proposed development at Foston.

This exciting development is the first of its kind, using human rights arguments against a scheme which on the face of it only exposes animals to abuse and mistreatment. Of course it is fortunate, for the pigs at least, that their proposed incarceration is in the vicinity of human residential areas. The campaigners’ joint letter to the council  points out that there is a considerable risk of the contamination of the area with pathogens such as salmonella, clostridium difficult, camphylobacter and E.coli, and new research suggests that within a certain distance of such facilities there are likely to be emissions such as ammonia and bio-aerosols in concentrations that are potentially harmful to human health.

The Health Protection Agency’s “Position Statement on Intensive Farming”, published at the end of last year, will be music to the ears of opponents of US style factory food production. The Agency refers to recent research in relation to bio-aerosols showing that

those living up to 150 metres downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be exposed to multi-drug resistant organisms.

In their letter to the Council, the campaigners point out that planning authorities, as emanations of the state, have an obligation under the Human Rights Act to consider the effects of their decisions of affected third parties. The grant of permission in circumstances where there is a “reasonable and convincing evidence” that the development in question would have a direct effect on the quality of life of concerned third parties has the potential to engage the Article 8 rights of those parties.

So even though there is no human right to the preservation of the environment expressed in the Convention, this is the latest example of how Article 8 can be extended, in practice. to situations involving environmental pollution even without proof of serious damage to health. As the letter says,

“the right to private and family life prevents not just physical incursions into the home or residence, but also interference from things such as noise, smell, emissions. Any serious effect of this nature may result in a breach of Article 8 rights if it prevents the person concerned from enjoying the amenities of their home (Moreno Gomez v Spain [2005] 41 EHRR 40

There is also a prison nearby, and the letter asserts that the prison staff cannot avoid working close to the proposed development unless they resign from the jobs. The inmates of Foston Hall prison are not living in the area by choice, and clearly do not have the option of moving away if the development goes ahead. They will not be able to escape the risk to their health posed by the development, and the letter warns that allowing the pig factory to go ahead could also breach the inmates’ right to be protected from inhumane treatment under Article 3.

The project suffered a major setback in November 2011 when Derbyshire district council refused to back it. The final decision – already delayed – will be taken at county council level although no date has yet been set for a meeting.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related reading:

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus coronavirus act 2020 costs costs budgets Court of Protection covid crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: