July 2015: A month of positive change

I’m now sharing this slot in Pig World with AHDB Pork’s technical veterinary team manager, Martin Smith, and, in essence, he will focus on health and I will continue to focus on the environment. However, as always, there will be noticeable crossover. Besides sharing a column, it turns out we have a few other things in common. We’ve both spent formative years with Brian Clough as a neighbour, and we also went to the same secondary school.

June was a month of positive change and modernisation, with our rebranding as AHDB Pork and the team entering into the world of video meetings. The video system so far seems straightforward to use and will hopefully make us more accessible to producers, as well as cutting down the need to travel, which will save time.

We can now pop up anywhere so, if you can face the prospect, we can talk face-to-face and share documents and photographs on screen. However, the downside is that the face of Jon Bullock, our communications officer, keeps popping up on the system!

I keep mentioning the EID (IPPC) Bref document, the eurozone rule book for permitted farms. This has now moved on and the final draft has been released and consulted on.

In the three weeks allowed, myself, Lizzie Wilson from the NPA, Alison Holdsworth from the Environment Agency and representatives from the poultry sector went through the 1,082 pages and submitted our comments.

The work we did in October last year in Seville seems to have paid off, as agreed positions have made it through to the final document. However, we did still manage to submit 22 comments for the UK – still leading the league table.

Other member states offered none, or a handful of comments, but crucially we didn’t spot any showstoppers, and think that the document is one that can be worked with. The proposal for the whole pig production process to achieve an ammonia emission of X% below a baseline has now gone, but field muck heaps are still in. Next comes two rounds of voting, expected to start later this year.

On the planning and permitting side, we’re observing the progress of the planning application for a new wean-to-finish unit in Northern Ireland. The proposal on a greenfield site includes air cleaning, slatted floors with scrapers below and an AD plant. The applicants have prepared a very detailed and comprehensive set of documents to make their case.

I know from speaking to producers over there, that for a number of years they’ve felt that the only way they can develop sites going forward will be to clean the air, as there are just too many houses around. No one wants to be the first to scrub and set the precedent, however it’s a case of who and when, rather than never.

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About The Author

Nigel Penlington joined AHDB Pigs in 2004 and is now the organisation’s head of research and development and knowledge exchange.