A residents’ group in West Waterford is contesting two planning applications for an industrial pig farm near Ballinamult that would produce 19.5m litres of pig slurry per year.
Two planning applications at sites 1.5km apart in Carrigroe and Caherbrack by Fenor Pig Farms seek to demolish pre-existing piggeries and increase the capacity to 18,280 weaner and finisher pigs between the two sites.
An existing farm, transferred into the ownership of Fenor Pig Farms in November, housed 4,000 weaners and finishers in 2020, according to an EPA licencing document.
Odours, traffic increases, a negative impact on property value, animal welfare, and water pollution risks are among the reasons why a local group, Concerned Residents of Touraneena and Ballinamult (CRTB), objects to the plans.
The group says the two sites, which have two separate planning applications but would operate under a single licence, are an industrial “super piggery” that will damage quality of life and the environment.
Initial applications made last year were for a larger operation, including 960 breeding sows.
Waterford City and County Council received 83 objections to the first submissions, and sought more information last August.
In response, Fenor Pig Farms Ltd reduced the capacity of animals in the proposals. The deadline for submissions on the amended applications is now the May 5.
JP Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for CRTB, said while many of the objectors have been people living in the vicinity, the “magnitude of this will effect more than just us".
The slurry is proposed to go to 55 townlands for spreading, he said.
"One industrial piggery for a relatively densely populated area would be too much, and this is two.”
The Finisk river, part of the Blackwater Special Area of Conservation, is less than a kilometre from the Carrigroe site.
The group says dual planning applications for the same licenced operations are unfair and are causing confusion.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Having two separate site applications for one licence has been very confusing for the community. The figures are very difficult to decipher as they are often quoted for one site only or combined to suit the context.”
Michael Monagle of Makeway Ltd, an agricultural consultancy who made the planning application on behalf of Fenor Pig Farms Ltd, said there had been a pig farm on the site since the 1960s.
"The application is to replace the existing pig units and rebuild a more modern facility.”
Total ammonia emissions from the piggery would be reduced by 50% due to modernised slurry storage methods and there would be no net increase in slurry production despite the increase in animal numbers, Mr Monagle said.