RESIDENTS living near a proposed piggery say they are getting a taste of things to come following the arrival of 1,000 animals on site.

Permission has not yet been given for the construction of two sheds, designed to house up to 4,000 pigs, at Biggin Farm, near New Brancepeth.

However, two already constructed sheds have been converted at next door Hill House Farm and 1,000 animals are already at the farm.

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Pat Atkinson, who lives close to the farm, said: “If you walk up the stench is appalling and various people in Eshwood can all smell it sometimes.”

The application for the new sheds has been made by tenant farmer Tim Bates and the scheme would be an extension of a pig breeding operation elsewhere.

The pigs would be brought in at around 30kg and kept until they reach 105kg when they would be go for slaughter.

New details have now been revealed, including plans to spread slurry between New Brancepeth and Esh Winning, across land rented by G & M Westgarth, as well 180 acres of a neighbouring farm.

Concerns raised have included ones about the number of large lorries on narrow roads in the area, the possible impact on Ragpath wood, an area of ancient woodland, and pollution to the nearby River Deerness.

Mrs Atkinson added: “The new slurry spreading map shows us completely surrounded and the fields right up New Brancepeth included.

“The heavy lorries on our narrow road (which is supposed to have nothing over 7.5 tonnes) are increasing.

“All this is occurring before the application for a 4,000-pig shed is even considered. What will the future hold?”

Hundreds of residents from New Brancepeth, Esh Winning and Waterhouses have signed a petition against the proposed development while more than 150 people have also written to Durham County Council raising concerns about the plans.

A new planning statement says the road has been adequate for past operations, including a logging business and cattle rearing. It adds there would be two to three pig deliveries every 12 weeks and five loads of finisher pigs transported off the site each 12 weeks. and fortnightly food deliveries.

It also adds assurances that there will be no more pigs at Hill House Farm and says ammonia levels will be monitored.

A previous statement by the applicant says: “The applicants operate a successful pig breeding enterprise and wish to develop Biggin House Farm as an expansion of this business, continuing their proven model of efficiency and high health and welfare standards for pigs.”