Piggery emissions would impact Woodland Trust's ancient wood

A proposed large piggery will endanger nearby ancient woodland in northeast England, its owner the Woodland Trust has said.

Image: djim (CC BY 2.0)
Image: djim (CC BY 2.0)

The conservation charity has submitted an objection to Durham County Council following a report highlighting dangerously high potential ammonia and nitrogen emissions from the anticipated 4,000 pigs at Biggin Farm on over six hectares of ancient woodland in Ragpath Wood west of Durham.

The applicant, ARM Buildings of Staffordshire, has stated in its Environmental Statement that the woodland will be subject to ammonia concentrations in exceedance of 100% of the precautionary Critical Level, while 2.3 hectares of the ancient woodland will be subjected to nitrogen concentrations in excess of the Critical Load.

Woodland Trust site manager Richard Wilson, said: "Ragpath Wood forms part of a local nature walk and is well used by visitors, so the thought of their senses being assaulted by a huge pig finishing unit is unpleasant.

"More importantly there is a real risk of ammonia and nitrogen pollution causing lasting damage to the unique ancient woodland and its soils which no buffering or mitigation can allow for."

Field surveys have shown that increased nitrogen levels in woodland can lead to a greater abundance of nitrogen loving species which subsequently will out-compete many characteristic ancient woodland plants, the trust says.

It is calling for changes to planning policy to ensure ancient woods are only subject to possible development in "wholly exceptional" circumstances, and says over 15,000 people have supported this.

The council is expected to make a decision later in the year.

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