We expect farm-related planning applications to become more common in the future, as many sectors of the farming industry seek to expand in an attempt to remain viable. The recent widespread media and public interest highlight the need for animal welfare to be part of the planning process.
As the government in England is currently looking at amending and improving the planning process, we believe that including animal welfare as a ‘material consideration’ for certain applications will not only protect animal welfare, but ensure that all applications are handled consistently regardless of whether the application is for five dog kennels or a farming facility for 950 cows.
If animal welfare is included as a key consideration, this would help planning authorities to analyse the factual basis of any claim by those proposing or opposing large scale planning applications.
Large farms and animal welfare
On farm welfare is dependent on a variety of factors:
- Stockmanship (both in terms of ratio to animals and level of expertise).
- The need for caring and responsible planning and management.
- Appropriate environmental design (enrichment, natural lighting, space allowances etc).
- Considerate handling and transport.
- An acceptable balance between time spent inside and time spent outside grazing; this translates into access to pasture between March and October - depending where you are in the country.
Good welfare on farm is dependent on a number of complex factors which is why it is difficult to make generalisations about the likely welfare on large-medium or small-scale farms. Such evaluations can be made when scientific and practical experience are applied on a case by case basis.
We are opposed to ‘intensive’ farming – where the farming system and management prevent the performance of normal behaviours by the animals to such an extent that their welfare is compromised.