Farmer defends pig farm proposals ahead of meeting with critics
Opponents of the large-scale pig farm have been offered a meeting with the man behind the proposal, farmer Derek Hall.
It comes after a public meeting on the controversy was cancelled earlier this week. Protesters meeting at the Elim Church in New Mossley had expected to meet with Mr Hall, who was only given a few days' notice, but were told he would be unable to attend. Mr Hall yesterday told the Belfast Telegraph: "I keep 10,000 pigs and I want to find more ways to improve their welfare.
"This is why I have spent four years researching cutting-edge farming methods. They will have more space and be kept in rooms with other pigs of a similar age.
"Hundreds of homes have been developed almost up to the boundary of our farm.
"My plan is to build on land that is in a much less densely populated area. This would allow me to move 85% of my pigs away from the farm and refurbish the existing pig houses, which will greatly reduce odour."
Some local residents say the proposal should be handed over to Environment Minister Mark H Durkan for a final verdict.
The proposal is being examined by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which has said it may be some time - perhaps autumn - before a decision.
The Hall family want to extend premises at Old Carrick Road, and they describe the proposed development as "a sustainable, wholly self-sufficient intensive pig farming unit employing best industry practices".
Residents, however, fear that since the area is near a hill and floods regularly, it does not seem feasible that the local waterways and watertable will not be affected, especially as there will be two lagoons - one for water and one for pig waste.
But the Halls have insisted: "The size of the lagoon has been determined in line with the 100-year flood statistics. This means that the size of the lagoon has been determined in order to ensure that it will collect the water dispersed from the site, along with rainwater, and not overflow."