North Combe, Monkleigh, Devon – Another Intensive Dairy Farm Planning Application With Accompanying Slurry Lagoon


There is a planning application for an intensive dairy milking unit on land at Catsborough Cross. The unit would be less than 250 metres from neighbouring homes.

The planned milking unit would house 250 dairy milking cows. The building is designed to house the cows, have milking units and to house slurry. It is proposed to build this at the top of a slope which runs down to a river valley on land that has never had any building on it previously. The amount of slurry per month from 250 cows is 397.5 cubic metres which will be spread as slurry over fields which are next door to residential properties. The 250 dairy cows would be in addition to the 60 heifers, 60 calves and 150 store cattle that are already kept on the farm.

The unit would include a slurry lagoon which would only have a roof added at a later date. In addition, an unnatural lake will be formed to take the waste water from cleaning the unit. This would then flow into an existing pond which in turn flows off to a stream which leads to the River Torridge.

The unit and the slurrying activity would be taking place on a slope which drains down very readily to a stream.

It is amazing to us that there are extremely strict regulations governing what happens to human waste in relatively small quantities and yet such extraordinary volumes of waste from cattle kept in intensive conditions are allowed to be spread giving out extremely terrible smells. There are also zoonotic diseases, bacteria and parasites such as cryptosporidium, e-coli, salmonella, campylobacter that can be carried by cattle waste. There must surely be a very basic human right to breathe air that has not been contaminated with animal manure and urine.

In the latest Budget, the Chancellor said they were doing everything they could to improve air quality in towns and cities and yet this is what is being proposed in the countryside. It just doesn’t make any sense when the slurry is likely to have bacteria, viruses, parasites and antibiotic residues which when the slurry dries to dust will carry considerable distances in the wind and will end up being breathed in by nearby residents. The slurry will also greatly increase the number of disease carrying flies.

We really do not see how this is the only way to make a living on 196 hectares (484 acres) of land to the detriment of those living next door.

Local residents have been advised by the applicant’s advisors that the slurry will be spread every 6 weeks after grass cutting. That will create the most abject misery for those living in any nearby properties.

The development would also detract from the character and appearance of the area which is very special and has culm grasslands. The unit is very large with its highest point being approximately 33 feet high and this will be a blot on the landscape and its size is also considerable at 127 metres by 69 metres (or 419 feet by 227 feet). This is a collossal building housing a very large number of cows. There is no way that it can fit into the landscape. There will also be an adverse impact from the slurry carpeted fields.

Noise emission and disturbance: the noise from the unit will affect the current amenity and enjoyment at neighbouring properties. The extra tractor and vehicle movements will also be far greater than envisaged.

The proposed unit is extremely large and it is being proposed on an area that has never had a footprint of a building on it before. There are other dairy farms going out of business, would it not make more environmental sense to use those facilities instead of destroying the amenity of non-agricultural neighbours?

The proposed unit is approximately six times the size of the existing agricultural barn and would be totally out of keeping with the area and would not in any way protect the landscape or the environment. The planning application refers to the existing “complex” of farm buildings, but an existing set of traditional farm buildings cannot justify the construction of an extensive milking unit six times the size of the existing building. All the noise and smell associated with the planned operations is going to have an unacceptable effect when it is well within 250 metres of non-agricultural properties where people expect to continue to breathe fresh air. The slurry spreading area weaves around residential properties and is a totally revolting prospect.

We cannot see how it would not create a statutory nuisance from the foul smelling odours and that would then require an EIA to be undertaken too.

The Design and Access Statement states there will be external lighting for security purposes which will spoil the beautiful dark skies that can currently be enjoyed at night. Why should we have lights being on all night long when currently there are none. To have the lighting on all night, noise from the unit and odour from the unit, the pond and the spreading is going to totally destroy the quiet and tranquility of this beautiful part of Devon.

We believe that it would be unfair not to take into consideration the effect this will have on the local residents as it is currently a beautiful, tranquil area.

It is now clear what transpires from these large intensive units being built close to residential properties destroying the quality of life that their owners currently enjoy.

There will also, in our view, be serious health consequences if this unit is approved. Two of the nearby residents have each had two strokes, another has asthma and another a recent heart arrythmia. Any deterioration in air quality (which is an inevitable result if this unit is built) will have serious repercussions on those in less that good health.

We are asking concerned individual residents across North Devon to help us oppose this planning application.