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Your questions answered: owner responds to residents' concerns

The Belfast Telegraph put a series of questions about the pig farm to owner Derek hall through his PR firm DCP.

Q Will the proposed new facility be the biggest in Northern Ireland and the Republic? 

ANo, there are a number of a similar size and bigger

Q Are there any similar-sized facilities in the British Isles? 

A Yes and bigger. The advantages of this larger size is that it allows us to increase the room per pig by almost 30% and utilise the newest technology. 

Q Can the welfare of the thousands of pigs at the site be ensured?  

A Absolutely. The pigs will be divided by weight and age into various rooms so that animals of a similar size will be housed in the same area. As per standard farming practice, these rooms will be monitored by experienced personnel several times a day to ensure the health and wellbeing of all the pigs.

The health of the animals is of utmost importance to us and the new site will be a high health unit. All our animals are born and reared on our farm so disease cannot be brought in from outside sources.

Q Will all the pigs be kept inside?

A Unless pigs are organic or free range, pigs are reared indoors as our weather is not conducive for raising pigs. Their skin is extremely susceptible to sunburn and they do not have the ability to generate the heat they require when it is colder. However, our proposed farm will have large glass panels/skylights to allow natural light in along with a misting system to keep them cool in the warmer weather.

QWill they have space to move around?

A Yes. Our current farm is inspected at least every three months and we meet all the existing legislation.

Q What method of slaughter will be used?

A This is a farm and no slaughter will take place on it. All our pig meat is kept in the UK and Ireland. Our experience is local people who wish to eat pork want to buy it from local sources where the animals' welfare can be guaranteed.

Q How many pigs are currently kept at the existing Hall farm?

A 10,000 - however this will be reduced by 85% if planning permission is granted for the new farm.

Q How can Hall Farms guarantee the noise and smell will not affect nearby residents?

A We have been on our existing farm for 62 years and have never had a complaint about noise. We have spent four years investigating the latest farming technology and will be investing heavily to ensure that odour is virtually eliminated by a variety of methods including an anaerobic digester.

Q How does Hall Farms plan to deal with the huge amount of effluent generated by the number of animals on site?

A A scraper system will be built below the pig houses. This will remove pig waste regularly via an underground tank which pumps directly into the anaerobic digester which takes virtually all of the smell out of it and it is then stored in a covered tank until it is removed.

Q Can the farm guarantee that no effluent will reach into the water table?

A If permission is granted, our farm will be subject to very strict legislation and safeguards and will be inspected regularly. The farm will follow exacting safety measures put in place by the government departments to ensure effluent will not reach the water table.

Q Can the farm guarantee that the traffic to and from the site will not affect residents?  

A An average of five lorries a day will be required to bring feed, silage, transport animals and remove waste. Any other traffic would be normal movements associated with farming activity and most will be off peak.

Q Will the radius where the pig slurry is sprayed reach north Down, Lisburn and Ballygally?

A The vast majority of our slurry/digestate is and will continue to be removed by specialised contractors, who deliver it to where it is needed.

Belfast Telegraph