RESIDENTS are protesting against proposals for a “factory farm” with 4,000 pigs.

Tenant farmer Tim Bates has applied to build sheds for the animals on land at Biggin House Farm, near New Brancepeth.

It would be an extension of an existing pig farming business located elsewhere.

Dozens of objections have been submitted to Durham County Council’s planning department by residents, who say prevailing winds will blow the smell to their homes and have expressed concern about the levels of ammonia produced, which can pose a health risk for people with lung conditions.

Maria Cook said: “This is a huge farm they are asking for with 4,000 pigs. That’s not a farm, that’s industrial. Air quality around this area is going to be greatly affected and there is a real potential health risk for people living here.”

Peter Cook said: “County Durham is used to traditional farming. This is a factory farm that will change the nature of farming in the area and that’s something local people are not aware of.

“It’s going to be a permanent blight on the county.”

Concerns have also been raised about the suitability of access roads, which have restricted HGV use, the possibility of run-off into the River Deerness and the impact on nearby ancient woodland.

A 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.”

“The juvenile grower pigs will be brought onto site at around 30kgs from other local breeding units and reared to a finish weight of around 105kgs. They will then be transported to local slaughter facilities.”

The buildings will be built over underground concrete slurry tanks, with six months’ storage capacity.

According to the application, the slurry will be spread on nearby farmland, using methods to reduce the smell.

A public meeting is being held on Wednesday, April 26, at 7pm in New Brancepeth Village Hall.