Fury at Earl's plan for 'industrial' pig unit
Anger in a rural community is said to be approaching "storm force" as locals brace themselves for a battle with the Earl of Devon over plans to build a giant piggery.
A scoping exercise is underway by the landowner, who lives at Powderham Castle on the banks of the Exe Estuary, after he joined forces with a Northern Irish company to build a "finishing unit".
The proposed plant, just outside Kenton, would see 32,000 animals trucked in and out along quiet country lanes each year.
Residents fear it could damage the environment in a sensitive area. Locals, including the owners of a vineyard whose land borders the proposed site, worry the smell from massive slurry tanks will damage the reputation of the area as a tourist destination.
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Jo Bowen, who owns Kenton vineyard, beside the Haldon Hills, said placing such an industrial-type plant on the Powderham Estate, with its weddings and farm shop, would be a "blight".
"We and our fellow residents can see no net gain for the area and a huge potential loss caused by the pollution and infrastructure burdens such a unit will bring," she added.
"People are almost literally jumping up and down with anger. Many feel that traditional farming and tourism in the area are bound to be adversely affected, as well as residents' lives. Feeling is running extremely high and we expect a huge number of objections to the planning application once it is made."
The proposed "factory" would take young pigs – so-called weaners – and fatten them up before sending them for slaughter, probably in Taunton. Huge quantities of pig slurry would be stored on site for long periods, before being sprayed on local fields.
Teignbridge council first heard of the plan for land north of Kenton Common, from JMW Farms, in Armagh, on February 8.
Alan Connett, former Liberal Democrat leader of the authority who sits on the planning committee, said it would be "a very significant development".
"It does sound a bit industrial in its proposals," he added.
"All the roads leading to the potential site are constrained and Devon County Council has discouraged coaches and lorries from using the Mamhead Road as it is not suitable and regarded as light traffic only."
A request for comment made to the Earl of Devon, Hugh Courtenay, via the estate office at Powderham Castle, was declined.