A dairy farmer’s plans to increase his herd size to almost 900 cows and build a 1.1 acre slurry lagoon within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has divided opinion in the small community of St Nicholas.
The planning application for Velindre Farm is to go before national park planners this autumn. The deadline for public comments on the application is August 15.
Farmer Daniel Harries currently has a herd of 540 cows and plans to accommodate 320 more. He has applied to build a further 2552sqm of cattle accommodation; 354 sqm of outside yard and a 1.1 acre slurry lagoon with a 14,800 metre cubed capacity.
The 4.4m deep slurry lagoon, which is situated only 220 metres away from the nearest home and 800m from St Nicholas, is causing concern amongst some residents who are worried about odour, flies and gases.
“What they call slurry is raw animal sewage,” said a member of action group Preserve Pencaer. “During stirring, handling and spreading times, emissions from the slurry would be at their highest level and include ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, methane gas and other airborne pathogens.”
Protestors are estimating that the increased number of cows will create a volume of slurry approximately equivalent to sewage from a town of 20,000 people. They are calling for an environmental impact assessment to be undertaken because of the size of the development.
Other concerns are the safe management of large quantities of slurry close to a water course and the quality of the lagoon lining.
The group is worried about the impact on designated areas of ecological sensitivity close to the farm and on tourists visiting the Pencaer Peninsular.
There are also fears about the increase in heavy traffic using narrow country lanes to reach the farm. Although the total number of vehicle movements is only forecast to increase by 9%, some HGV vehicle movements are projected to increase by more than 60%.
“Such an industrial scale development is totally contrary to the aims of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park which is charged with ‘keeping the park special now and in the future’,” said a group member.
Farmer Daniel Harries said that he had worked with Pembrokeshire County Council, Natural Resources Wales and all the other necessary agencies to ensure that the plans complied with the required legislation.
He said his plans had attracted support from many St Nicholas residents and that the increase in HGV movements equated to one extra HGV every 21 days.
“The last thing I want to do is upset people in the community,” he added.
To contact Preserve Pencaer, e-mail email@example.com.